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Bombshell

Welcome to Bombshell. This new bi-weekly series, brought to you by War on the Rocks, is hosted by three of your favorite Washington insiders who will dissect today’s foreign policy crises and tomorrow’s security challenges. Our hosts — Loren DeJonge Schulman, Radha Iyengar Plumb, and Erin Simpson — will talk military strategy, White House mayhem, and the best cocktails known to (wo)man.
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Bombshell
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Sep 22, 2020

This week, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Lissner return to the show to discuss American grand strategy, female partnerships, and their fabulous new book, An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for Twenty-First Century Order. The ladies then revisit the administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East - with notes on the UAE-Israel accord and Iran sanctions drama. Also, Tiktok! Soothing pop-culture ties a bow on it.

Sep 9, 2020

Loren, Radha, and Erin invite Camille Stewart, non-resident fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center, to discuss all the cyber threats and how individual behavior uniquely connects with our ability to mitigate or respond to them. In keeping up foreign relations, we provide short updates on Alexei Navalny, Belarus, and Brexit alongside a brief farewell to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. We'd like to remind you all that Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq are still a thing, and after all the takes have been shared on Trump's views on service members, we talk about the role of the press in this story.

Aug 25, 2020

Radha, Erin, and Loren host Nina Jancowicz, disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center and author of How to Lose the Information War, to talk about the ongoing protests in Belarus and what we should read into the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In keeping up foreign relations, the ladies explore the latest U.S. attempt to use the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or “Iran nuclear deal”) — an agreement the United States ghosted on — to reinstate sanctions on Iran, and in White House mayhem they assess how the recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the 2016 election. Plus, process is our Valentine, but process can be used for evil ends, as we learned about the 2018 process to pursue family separation as an official U.S. policy. Unsurprisingly, we need a lot of pop culture to handle all this news.

Aug 11, 2020

This week Erin and Radha regroup while Loren takes a much-deserved vacation. They do a quick review on COVID-19 with the good (100 days no new cases in New Zealand), the bad (cases in Brazil, India, and the United States continue to grow), and the ugly (long-term economic consequences in the United States, India, and Brazil). They also dig into the recent explosion and protests in Lebanon and then go deep on the recent executive order impacting TikTok and WeChat. After reminding us that Afghanistan is still a thing, they talk about the lack of accurate and comprehensive briefings for POTUS and the mayhem that ensues, including quotes (and misquotes) by Robert O'brien (yes, he's the national security advisor!). To calm us all down, they then talk about pop culture from baseball movies (The Rookie, Bull Durham) to Arthurian legend-ish TV shows (Cursed).

 

Links

Jul 28, 2020

This week the band is back together with Loren, Radha, and Erin once again all in the same time zone. They dive into Mike Pompeo's China speech, global COVID trends, and the world-famous Missile Technology Control Regime. Also, Congress approved the NDAA, and they have lots of thoughts on DHS "troops" engaging protesters in Portland. Stick around for pop-culture dissection of the Guinevere Deception!

 

Links

Jul 14, 2020

With Radha and Erin on the road, Loren invites Ashely Feng of the Center for a New American Security, Kaleigh Thomas of CNAS, Kara Frederick of CNAS, Hijab Shah of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Meghan McGee of Georgetown University for a Bombshell takeover to discuss foreign policy issues with big generational shifts.

Jun 16, 2020

In this episode of Bombshell, the ladies  welcome Madelyn Creedon, former deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, to discuss the state of arms control today. The crew also discusses other foreign relations goings on: North Korea won’t call South Korea on their cell phone, late at night, or otherwise; India-China drama continues; and there’s much ado in Venezuela. President Donald Trump is reportedly considering full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan before November and you may have noticed something’s up in civil-military relations.

Jun 2, 2020

In this week’s episode, while Loren cleans out her office, Radha and Erin dig into an array of China-related topics: Huawei! India! Hong Kong! And last, but certainly not least, the World Health Organization. The ladies then turn to White House/American mayhem and try to be analytical while lamenting ongoing violence against black Americans and the potential deployment of U.S. troops in American cities. And finally, an awkward transition to a discussion of pop-culture yields some gems.

 

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Huawei

India Border

Hong Kong

WHO

Protests in US

George Floyd

May 19, 2020

This week Erin, Loren, and Radha regroup for a "what did I miss" session to discuss the events of the last few weeks. Starting with the bizarre coup that wasn't in Venezuela, the ladies go on to talk about the Iran not-so-snap-back sanctions — including the Babysitter's Club analogy that you’ll need in order to understand why everyone is so annoyed — and the potentially pending restart of the China trade war. They then turn to the dwindling number of inspector generals and remind everyone why process is their valentine. They close out this episode with a discussion of books that will help you to learn if you feel like, cope when you need help, and escape when you want to.

May 5, 2020

Jung Pak, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, joins Bombshell to discuss her fascinating and timely new book: Becoming Kim Jong Un. Radha, Erin, and Loren remind listeners that Afghanistan is still a thing even if the U.S. government would prefer it not to be. Also, did you know it’s possible to restart a trade war amid the pandemic? Or that the United States is a participant in the JCPOA? Neither did we. Plus, pop culture!

Apr 21, 2020

This week the ladies are back with a normal-ish episode, complete with special guest Nora Bensahel! She helps them dive deep on COVID-19 impacts on the defense budget. From there, they explore possible changes to the “global order,” Loren offers a tutorial on Hungary and Israel, and Radha schools us on trade issues. The ladies wrap up with a discussion of the most pressing issue of the day - haircuts. And issue a heartfelt socially distant hug to the Iyengar family.

 

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Apr 7, 2020

This week Loren and Erin talk their way through all the coronavirus feelings: fear, hope, gratitude, some minor policy questions, and the pop culture that's giving us life. Stay home, be safe, wash your hands.

Mar 24, 2020

Kathleen Hicks, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and all-around superhero, joins Loren, Radha, and Erin for an all-COVID-19 episode, starting with potential contributions by the Department of Defense to addressing this crisis. The ladies explore different angles of the global pandemic, including how it's impacting other ongoing international events, the economy, and domestic politics. Thanks be they also spend a lot of time on pop culture to soothe the soul.

Mar 10, 2020

This week Erin, Loren, and Radha reunite after a midwinter break to talk pandemics. They then turn to the Afghanistan “peace” deal, Israeli elections (third time’s the charm?), and recent developments in Syria. As always, there’s plenty of White House mayhem with a new chief of staff, and vacancies as far as the eye can see in Pentagon civilian leadership. Thankfully, Hilary Mantel books and Love is Blind provide a pop culture escape to soothe (or at least distract) the soul.

 

Links

Coronavirus

Afghanistan

Pop Culture

Syria

OSD

Feb 11, 2020

This week the ladies return to regular programming and try to catch up after one of the more crazy weeks in recent political memory. They start off with the Coronavirus crisis before returning to an old-standby, Brexit. They also provide some color commentary on the recent Irish elections. And how could they forget the new Middle East Peace Plan! That’s before they get to impeachment, NSC firings, and White House Mayhem. Stick around and hear them gush about Little Women.

 

Links

Coronavirus

Brexit

Irish Elections

Middle East Peace

Irish Election

Travel Ban

Pop Culture

  • Marlon and Jake Read Dead People, Podcast
Jan 28, 2020

Erin, Radha and Loren welcome three special guests for their annual "manniversary" episode: Hayes Brown from Buzzfeed, Tommy Vietor of Pod Save the World, and Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe join them to talk about communicating national security in this crazy world.

Jan 14, 2020

This week Bombshell welcomes Suzanne Maloney of Brookings to chat all things Iran. And because we love our listeners so much, we extended the discussion for the whole show to consider legality, effectiveness, process, and what happens next. Also, Megxit. Duh.

 

Links

Dec 31, 2019

Erin, Radha, and Loren mull over 2019, muse about 2020, and debate Rise of the Skywalker. We will be with you again.

Dec 17, 2019

This week Radha and Erin lead a special live episode from the NatSec Girl Squad Conference. They are joined by Dana Stroul, Kim Kagan, and Mara Karlin who all recently participated in the Congressionally mandated Syria Study Group. Listen in as the ladies discuss Syria policy, study group process, and answer audience questions!

 

Links

Dec 3, 2019

This week Radha, Erin, and Loren reunite to drink eggnog (or not!) and talk about events in London, from interrupting violent attacks with narwhal tusks to interrupting NATO ministerials with middle school-esque drama. The ladies then turn to protests in the Middle East, predictions on China trade deals, and Hong Kong legislation. Rounding it out is a lively discussion of all the mayhem that ensued when Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer (not that Richard Spencer) resigned. After that, the ladies have a much-needed pop culture discussion on all the holiday movies they're looking forward to watching.

 

Links

London Terrorist Attack

Iran

China/Hong Kong

NATO

Nov 19, 2019

This week Loren, Erin, and Radha are joined by the peerless Mira Rapp-Hooper. Taking a break from stalking her perfect oat milk, Mira walks the ladies through alliances and shifting demands with Japan and Korea. The ladies do a whirlwind review of Hong Kong, Bolivia, auto tariffs, and pardons. After 5 words (plus margin of error) on impeachment stories of note, Erin and Radha (yup Radha) discuss the new Star Wars series where to Loren's dismay Radha declares her love of Star Wars puppets (especially those teddy bears).

 

Links

Asia

Bolivia 

Trade

Pardons

 

Nov 5, 2019

This week the ladies of Bombshell go deep on the Syria raid and the “value” of high-value targeting, before turning their attention to popular protests in Iraq and Lebanon. Of course, no episode would be complete without a Brexit update! Radha regales us with CFIUS tales and we all lament the attacks on LTC Vindman. Also, will the NDAA ever pass?

 

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Oct 22, 2019

Melissa Dalton from CSIS joins Loren, Radha, and Erin to offer a thorough, if morose, update on the U.S. military withdrawal from northern Syria and where that leaves Syrian Kurds. Bombshell returns to the topic of the United Kingdom which....might have a Brexit deal? The ladies also dive into the implications of recent NBA/China drama and what's going on with the impeachment inquiry, and amazingly have a disagreement about political speech by uniformed and retired military.

 

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Oct 8, 2019

Bombshell takes a step back to offer some context to the whirlwind of Ukraine and related investigations: what’s with Ukraine’s political trajectory, why is it a magnet for crises involving external actors these days, and how is it being impacted by today’s scandals?  In Trump’s trade negotiations with China, how have elections become intertwined with those discussions? Turning to the White House, President Trump has had multiple crises emerge from calls with foreign leaders - how does his process shape those results. The NSC staff is wrapped up with today’s whistleblower investigation - who are they, and how can their role be politicized? In reacting to these events, President Trump’s language has taken an authoritarian tinge—what does political science tell us about his actions? And lastly, the president has suggested violence may erupt if he’s pushed out of office - how should we think about the military’s role in such scenarios?

 

Links

Ukraine

Impeachment legal Counsel Advice

  • Radha Iyengar, Tweet, October 2, 2019

Trump Leader Calls

Authoritarianism

Sep 24, 2019

This week Bombshell is blessed by the return of Tamara Cofman Wittes to help everyone understand Iran’s possible motives in the strike on an Aramco facility and what Saudi Arabia might do next. And as a bonus she sticks around to dive into Israeli elections. Then Erin, Radha, and Loren take a deep, nerve-calming breath to dive into the current White House Mayhem: the ouster of John Bolton, the arrival of Robert O’Brien, and the whistleblower-Ukraine monstrosity.  Also, Erin saw Moulin Rouge and you should too, if you can can can.

 

Links

Aramco Attacks

Israeli Elections

New National Security Advisor

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