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While the Internet has given us a lot of good things, from comprehensive consumer choices to powerful movements to hold the powerful accountable, it also has its darker corners where hatred is thriving, where acts of terrible violence in the real world are inspired. As a Jewish writer who had often been targeted by anti-Semitic and misogynistic att…
 
This week we are pleased to welcome to the podcast Erica De Bruin, an Assistant Professor of Government at Hamilton College and the author of the new book, "How to Prevent Coups d'État: Counterbalancing and Regime Survival." At the time of this conversation with Robert Amsterdam, the Michigan Republican Party board of electors had refused to certif…
 
For the past 70 years, the United States has toyed with interventionism in the Middle East on numerous occasions, from Iran to Afghanistan (twice), Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, among others. And yet, despite the consistently disastrous consequences of these efforts, the same policies continue to attract support, as US decision-makers consistently…
 
Having gone through the tumultuous experience of this past election in the United States, with provocative propaganda, disinformation, fake news, and pervasive and extreme distrust, many feel like we're experiencing an unprecedented moment. But arguably, we've been here before. This week we are joined by Prof. Heidi Tworek, author of "News from Ger…
 
President-elect Joe Biden has won the 2020 US Presidential elections, but outgoing President Donald Trump is continuing with a show of defiance. Right from the heart of Philadelphia where the final votes are being counted, we are joined by constitutional and international law expert, Prof. William Burke White, who shares his view of what's been hap…
 
Up until his recent resignation due to health concerns, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cast a long shadow as one of the most remarkable global statesman, shaping the country's alliances and leadership position in an extremely difficult and threatening region of the world. Journalist and author Tobias Harris, author of "The Iconoclast: Shinzo Ab…
 
On Wednesday, October 28, 2020 the Republic of Tanzania held presidential elections. Though many feared that it would be neither free nor fair, what came to pass was much worse than could have been imagined. Robert Amsterdam, the host of this podcast, acts as an international attorney for the main opposition candidate in this election, Tundu Lissu,…
 
From 1976-1983, a brutal military dictatorship disappeared some 30,000 citizens and arrested and tortured scores more in Argentina. As a young lawyer at the time known for representing dissidents and political prisoners, Juan Méndez himself was arrested and subjected to torture. The story of his career, rising to become the Special Rapporteur on To…
 
Korea is a deeply unique, complex, and interesting place in the world. Upended by repeated waves of war and occupation throughout its history, the modern nation has propulsively launched itself in the stratosphere culturally and economically and grown perhaps faster than any other. This presents undeniable benefits and prosperity, but also a number…
 
We often defer to superlatives when describing our current political age, but the truth is that in many respects, we have been here before. In the summer of 1901, the tycoon JP Morgan was assembling a merger that would give him a monopoly position over America's railroads. His strong supporter in the White House, President William McKinley, was the…
 
For more than 20 years, Mike Masnick has been writing prolifically on the intersection of technology, freedom of speech, IP law, and politics at the award-winning blog Techdirt, helping to elevate awareness of how these crucial issues are impacting society. Joining the podcast with Robert Amsterdam today, Masnick discusses the recent drama around t…
 
Only a few years after the Arab Spring failed to convert Middle Eastern dictatorships into democracies (with the exception of Tunisia), many scholars and analysts stopped talking about it entirely, as if to pretend these events never took place. Harvard law professor and constitutional scholar Noah Feldman set out to change that with his latest boo…
 
This week we are pleased to be joined by Kurt Andersen, a polymath Peabody-award winning journalist, novelist, and radio host to talk about his latest book, "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America." But before we get into the prerecord discussion of the book, we couldn't resist bringing Kurt back on the show for an update following one of the wilde…
 
Like no other president before him, Donald Trump and his inner circle have sought to monetize the White House - but has it been a good business? Dan Alexander, a journalist at Forbes and the author of the new book, "White House Inc.: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency Into a Business," joins the podcast to discuss in detail the assets and reven…
 
FDR and Churchill. Kennedy and Macmillan. Reagan and Thatcher. Bush and Blair. Trump and Johnson. The so-called "special relationship" enjoyed between the United States and the United Kingdom in the past 75 years since the end of World War II, often guided by the personalities of the respective individual leaders, has come to define so much of what…
 
There are few other countries in history with Russia's record of foreign intrigue. High-level assassinations of prominent dissidents, including the nuclear poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London, Sergei Skripal in Salisburg, the most recent poisoning of Alexei Navalny presumably in Siberia followed by his recovery in Germany, have come to shap…
 
For many years now, China and Japan have not enjoyed very good relations. In fact, highly volatile and emotional issues of territory, history, and identity have escalated dangerously. But are these historical issues largely a political construction, and do in fact the two nations have more in common in terms of interests and history than they are a…
 
The deepening economic inequality being experienced in the United States has brought with it considerable cultural and political problems, the most interesting being the popularity of the Republican Party among lower income groups, despite a policy agenda that is decidedly hostile to their own economic interests. The answer, argue political scienti…
 
Over the past number of years, Washington has come to regard strategic competition with China through a rather narrow lens of trade, national security, and diplomacy, while paying much less attention to Beijing's ambitions to increase its influence across the Eurasian basin, from Pakistan to Kazakhstan and Iran. Daniel Markey, a professor at Johns …
 
We often discuss Russia's actions during the 2016 US election as though it were something "unprecedented." But in fact, there is a long established history of Russia, the Soviet Union before it, and the United States engaging in widespread efforts to interfere in elections around the world. The more important question is what to do about it. David …
 
The proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War in a way served as a deterrent for conflict between nations - the power of these weapons was so overwhelming and the potential consequences of any action so irreversible, it was possible to sustain a long period of détente. But as technology evolved, and micro-aggressions of state-sponsored h…
 
Following the demise of the Nazi regime in Germany at the end of the second World War, European nations set about a series of reforms to their political systems which would continue to entail popular representation expressed through a stronger set of institutions, bureaucracy, and law to constrain the potential abuses which sparked the war. Oxford …
 
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States engaged in a relentless anticommunism crusade which included the sponsorship of mass killings, coups, and installations of authoritarian regimes across much of the global South, from Indonesia to Brazil. In his fascinating new book, "The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder…
 
In 1942, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle led an audacious one-way bombing raid to hit targets in Japan which many thought impossible. With nowhere to land their planes, eight American airmen who were captured afterward by Japanese troops in occupied Chinese territory, and later subjected to trials and death sentences. In his fascinating new book, "Last…
 
Tundu Lissu is not known for backing down from a challenge. From his humble roots growing up herding cattle in Central Tanzania to his British education and legal practice, he rose to a senior position in the CHADEMA opposition party. As a vocal critic challenging the alleged human rights abuses of President John Magufuli, in 2017 he survived an at…
 
As the Syrian conflict has raged on for almost a decade, and the United Nations is hamstrung with Russia's veto power over proposed legal instruments to intervene, international law finds itself being innovated at light speed in response. Michael Scharf, the co-dean of the Law School of Case Western Reserve University and the co-author of "The Syri…
 
As the trade war heats up between the United States and China, the strategic calculations on behalf of both Donald Trump and Xi Jinping bear increasing levels of risk of the confrontation spinning out of control. Joining the podcast this episode are two Wall Street Journal reporters, Bob Davis and Lingling Wei, whose new book "Superpower Showdown: …
 
As a career foreign service officer, Elizabeth Shackelford was seen as a rising star in the US State Department, a recipient of the Barbara Watson Award for Consular Excellence. But in 2017 she resigned from public service, publishing a stinging indictment of a letter which brought to light the extraordinary mismanagement and strategic drift under …
 
With assassinations taking place on foreign soil, widespread hacking and disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining democratic elections, and provocations of armed conflict across multiple theaters, Russia's role in the post-Cold War international system under President Vladimir Putin has been that of a disrupter. But they've likely never had a …
 
As an attorney, distinguished diplomat, academic and author, there are few public officials with careers as varied and impressive as Philip Zelikow. He served as the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, was the author of the "Zelikow memo" disputing the legal grounds of torture of terrorism detainees, and co-authored books with former Secreta…
 
The United States has enjoyed a position of relative primacy in the international system since the end of World War II, but are those days numbered as China and other powers continue to rise? Or does Washington still have a few more decades left in the tank? Matthew Kroenig, a political scientist and the Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council's Sc…
 
For fans of legal fiction, there are few characters more memorable than Scott Turow's protagonist, Alejandro “Sandy” Stern, whose crusading work as a defense counsel first appeared in his 1987 book, "Presumed Innocent." Now, with Turow's latest novel, "The Last Trial," it appears we are witnessing the end of a long arc of a beloved character. In th…
 
The United States has risen to its position of primacy thanks to a carefully constructed system of alliances with numerous other countries. That system, however, has suffered significant damage in recent years, is under increasing attack both at home and abroad, and desperately needs rebuilding, argues Mira Rapp-Hooper, a Senior Fellow at the Counc…
 
Last month, the White House issued an executive order to apply terrorism-style sanctions such as bank account and asset seizure orders against members of the International Criminal Court (ICC), presumably as a response to express disapproval of a war crimes investigation related to events in Afghanistan. William Burke-White, a law professor at the …
 
For 175 years, well before the young Mao Zedong began his Long March, two rival Jewish dynasties dominated Chinese business and politics, accumulating massive wealth and power while navigating the tumultuous history of the period before losing nearly everything once the Communists swept into power. Jonathan Kaufman, a Pulitzer-prize winning journal…
 
For many years, Africa's natural resource wealth, young population, and vibrant societies have raised many hopes for a rapid emergence on the world's stage - but the development of these opportunities has often slow and uneven. So what is holding the region back? John Campbell, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Senior Fellow at the Council on Fore…
 
So much of the peace and prosperity achieved following the end of World War II and past the end of the Cold War was rooted in a common civilizational grammar driving foreign policy, an imagined community of nations referred to as "The West" based on a set of Enlightenment ideas. But then we lost confidence in that cultural narrative, and gradually …
 
There are few other countries in the world that have wielded money and influence as well as the modern Russian state, to the point of purchasing impunity and acquiescence to their status quo. And this is not all simply because of a "master strategy" by Vladimir Putin, but instead a vast and complex system of illicit enrichment and state capture by …
 
For experts who spend their careers studying modern authoritarianism, it has only recently become prudent to apply their analytical skillset to talking about political developments in the United States. Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior, who stood out in 2015 as one of the lone voices warning that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, sp…
 
Earlier this month marked the 31st anniversary of Tiannanmen Square, while during this same period, the same Chinese Communist Party solidified its grip on Hong Kong with the passage of a new national security law that would subject Hong Kongers to extradition and Chinese legal jurisdiction. These events are just examples of the extreme lengths Bei…
 
There is really no shared political ideology, there is no general set of policies, that are common among populists like Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump, or Viktor Orban, or Jair Bolsonaro and so on. What unites them is that they are all nostalgists, that they have mobilized an imagined version of each country's historical past greatness and put that…
 
For the past 50 years, the US foreign policy establishment has relied on methods both overt and covert to express its interests abroad, often involving the destabilization and removal of democratically elected governments, frequently resulting in outcomes that end up worse than their precedents. Stephen Kinzer, a veteran foreign correspondent, auth…
 
Two weeks after the callous murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers, the United States is beset by a level of nationwide unrest and protests the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades. Will this be a moment of reflection in which our society and institutions are finally reformed to purge the deeply embedded structures of raci…
 
We usually don't use the titles of books as podcast titles, but in this case, during this week in Washington DC, it is sadly quite apt. Before introducing this week's author, Bob shares his thoughts on the tragic events following the killing of George Floyd followed by the ensuing protests, riots, and crackdowns. As the United States experiences a …
 
The United States spends trillions on its military, but is it really achieving stronger national security? Not really, says Sean McFate, the author of the book "The New Rules of War." In his conversation with Bob, McFate argues that the US has been obsessed with outdated conventional warfare, has fetishized technology and tactical battlefield victo…
 
There are a lot of pundits out there declaring democracy promotion to be dead on arrival in the Trump era. But there's still an important community of activists fighting for the cause against the odds. "Democracy matters and democratic leadership matters, even in the face of a fast-moving crisis like the coronavirus," says Jeffrey Smith, the founde…
 
The default mode of thinking in U.S. foreign policy circles is that more countries should be like us, and that with the right support, new democracies can bloom and flourish all across the world. Except history shows us again and again that it doesn't work like that. Stephen Krasner, a professor at Stanford University and a former official in the G…
 
Kim Dotcom is no stranger to lockdowns. For more than 8 years, the Megaupload founder and tech entrepreneur has been fighting an extradition request to New Zealand from the United States following an over-the-top FBI raid on his home in 2012 ... bizarrely over accusations of third-party copyright infringement. Robert Amsterdam, whose firm has provi…
 
Is it better to fight an authoritarian government and lose, or work with that government and survive to fight another day? Bob interviews Joshua Yaffa, Moscow Correspondent for the New Yorker and author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia, about the mentalities of the people who brought Vladimir Putin to power, t…
 
On the latest episode of Departures, Robert Amsterdam speaks with Professor Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and a professor at Georgetown University about her book, "Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest." In her book, Stent examines Russia's long-troubled relationship with the…
 
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