How Wars End

Gabriel García Márquez famously said, “It’s much easier to start a war than it is to end it.” We’ve seen this in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and with both world wars.    On this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast we talk with Gideon Rose, author of the classic work How Wars End. He is the long-time editor of Foreign Affairs and currently a distinguished fellow in US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Rose is also a former staff member of the National Security Council.  

Battlefield Nuclear Weapons Really Are a Thing?

Even amid great battle victories for the Ukrainians over the Russians, the war is far from over. The desperation and brutality of Russia seems to be without end. And over and over again, we hear threats from the Russians about the use of tactical nuclear weapons.   But what are these weapons? Just how deadly are they? How widespread could their potential damage be, and how might their use escalate? David Shlapak, our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, has been studying these issues since the Cold War.    

Democracy and Diversity Don’t Mix

Never in history has a democracy succeeded in being both diverse and equal. Instead, such policies have failed in treating members of many different ethnic or religious groups fairly. And yet achieving that goal continues to be central to the democratic project in the US, and in countries around the world. It is, argues our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Yascha Mounk, the greatest experiment of our time.  

Decoding Putin and Russia: A Conversation with Sam Ramani

Has any war in history gotten such overwhelmingly granular coverage as the war in Ukraine? We seem to know about every missile, every aircraft part, every military and civilian death in staggering detail. But to really understand what’s happening, we need to step back and consider the deeper geopolitical causes and implications.  

Why We Should Not Take Data Breaches for Granted

All your personal data is online somewhere. If you didn’t put your financial information online, your bank did. If you don’t think your health data is already in the cloud, ask your health care providers why they put it there.    Today, to live a full life, your online data is required, and your mobile phone will soon be the only way to travel, arrange for health services, or transact business.   

WhoWhatWhy, Project Censored, and the News About the News

Too often, the corporate media decides which news stories get attention and which get ignored.    Exacerbating this situation is the lack of media literacy on the part of so many citizens and the power of big tech to control so much of what we see.  

Michael Wasiura Reports, You Decide

A young man out of the University of Michigan idealistically joins the Peace Corps in 2006 and goes off to Odessa in Ukraine. A few academic degrees later, he returns to Odessa  where he falls in love with the region — and a beautiful Russian woman. They get married, and move to Moscow where he begins the life of a young expat in Russia.  

The Deepest Roots of Ukrainian Catastrophe

A number of foreign policy “experts” have been saying that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is the fault of the US and Europe for expanding NATO too far East. My guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Michael Ignatieff — former Canadian Liberal Party leader and author most recently of On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times — flatly rejects that notion.   He argues that the expansion of NATO was not only essential but actually demanded by Eastern European states.  

Putin’s Real Reason for War? A Wag-the-Dog Theory

Did Russia’s President Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine to distract attention from his own political weakness at home? Sure, he was unhappy about NATO and obsessed with restoring the glory of the Russian empire. But the timing of this war and Putin’s expectation of a quick victory may be rooted in his own domestic political failures.  

China, India, Russia, the West, and the Evolving Global Chessboard

Beyond the tragic war devastating Ukraine, the global chessboard is being rearranged. It’s as if Putin gave the board a violent shake, and the pieces can never be put back where they were.  Although the new configuration is hard to predict, one thing is certain: China’s position will be mightily strengthened.     That’s our focus on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, as we talk with Dr. Timothy Heath, the senior international defense researcher, focusing on China, at RAND Corporation.  

There Are No Good Outcomes in Ukraine, Only a More Dangerous World

According to our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, author Shay Khatiri, Russia’s attack on Ukraine is not unlike the fall of Afghanistan. It was obvious what was going to happen. We refused to think it would happen, and then we were shocked when it did.    Khatiri is an author and a national security expert with a Masters Degree in strategic studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International studies at Johns Hopkins University. 

He Battled Putin, and Now Predicts What He’ll Do Next About Ukraine

Cable television, social media, and TikTok have given us minute-by-minute updates on the war being fought on the ground. But with sanctions, oligarchs, and bankers, a very different war is being fought.    Our guest on this special WhoWhatWhy podcast is banker and activist Bill Browder who, for decades, has been battling Russian President Vladimir Putin and hunting Russian oligarchs.   

Why the Internet Is Less Safe Than Flying or Driving or Eating

We should be afraid, very afraid, of the internet, says our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, longtime internet security expert, public-interest technologist, and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School Bruce Schneier.  

Is America Approaching Its “Sell by” Date?

Is the United States’ 246-year experiment in self-government over?    According to our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, novelist and culture writer Stephen Marche (The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future), the US is careening toward catastrophe.   Marche breaks down the global history of civil wars and insurrections and concludes that the US now possesses virtually all the kindling required for a civil war to ignite.  

Is Crypto a Libertarian Dream or a Left-Wing Nightmare?

In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast we talk with bestselling author Daniel Pinchbeck about the future of cryptocurrency.    With its founding roots in the 2008 financial crash, crypto evolved as a way to decentralize finance and disrupt what was thought to be a corrupt financial system. Instead, it’s become its own speculative asset class, spawning an entire ecosystem of new financial products.

How the Supreme Court Played Capture the Flag: Conversation with Sen. Whitehouse

Behind the seemingly pointless noise and bluster of American politics, there are a few key factors that explain how we got where we are today. Exhibit A: the Supreme Court.     It did not evolve to its current 6-to-3 conservative majority by accident. What tipped the scales, in fact, was a 50-year right-wing project that can be traced back to a single secret memo a brief document that laid out what a sympathetic Court could do to protect corporate America.  

Corruption Is America’s Operating System

Our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, historian and journalist Sarah Chayes, argues that we can’t fix our floundering democracy until we face and fix our current levels of corruption.   In her view, we are in a “pandemic of corruption,” fostered by a network of corrupt businesses and political leaders worldwide. Before we can begin to set things right, however, we first have to grasp what modern-day corruption really is.   

Climate Catastrophe, the Fall of America, and a New World Order

The history of empires is a repetitive tale of overweening ambition, followed sooner or later by crushing defeat.    Understanding this process is the work of our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Alfred McCoy, chair of the history department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and author of To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change.    

A Hopeful Look at How Global Migration Moves the World Forward

If you think the world has gotten unfathomably complicated, you’re not alone. As we careen through the third decade of the 21st century we face political upheaval, revolution, civil war, international conflicts, refugee flows, climate change, economic and technological disruption, a COVID-19 pandemic, rising levels of debt, demographic imbalance between the old and the young, racial conflict, and a tsunami of disinformation.   

WhoWhatWhy’s Best Podcasts of 2021 — Part 2

The explosion of podcasts no doubt reflects their unique ability to convey information in an intimate and uncluttered fashion.    From the many podcasts WhoWhatWhy published in 2021, we have selected 10 for our annual “Best of” list, which we believe represents a kind of overview audio diary — capturing what we lived through, felt, and thought during the past 12 months.   

WhoWhatWhy’s Best Podcasts of 2021 — Part 1

The explosion of podcasts no doubt reflects their unique ability to convey information in an intimate and uncluttered fashion.    From the many podcasts WhoWhatWhy published in 2021, we have selected 10 for our annual “Best of” list, which we believe represents a kind of overview audio diary — capturing what we lived through, felt, and thought during the past 12 months.   

Extremism Is the New Normal

  Our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, philosopher, author, and professor Quassim Cassam, argues that only by ackowledging the seductive appeal of extremism, conspiracy theories, and terrorism can we get a handle on the underlying forces at play in our polticis today.   Be it on the left or right, Cassam explains how practitioners of extremism take advantage of human nature, particularly our tendencies toward anger, resentment, and a sense of grievance.   

Are We All Racists Now?

Today race has become the center of almost every political conversation. Our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, author, journalist, linguist, and Columbia University professor John McWhorter, has a contrarian point of view. He argues that what he defines as “neo-racism,” disguised as wokeism, is destroying America’s social fabric.   

Our Failed Public Health System Dared COVID to Attack Us

If we had a better public health system in America, would the pandemic have been as bad? Would as many people have died? Was the real point of entry for the virus not just our bodies — but a system of public health that in a sense dared the pathogen to attack us?   

Business for Good: A Conversation With George Zimmer

One of the criticisms of politics and punditry today is that it often gets caught up in the tyranny of the impractical &; ideas that sound good but may not take flight in the real world.    With this in mind, the WhoWhatWhy podcast is always seeking to expand our horizons to include conversations with smart people who have to make hard decisions and solve real  problems every day because their livelihood depends on it.  

When the Metaverse and Evolution Collide

Is the “metaverse” or any totally digital world good for us? Can our mental capacities evolve fast enough to exist in the digital world without anxiety and anger?    In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, the sometimes controversial evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying talk about their new book, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century.