Net Assessment

War on the Rocks

  • 58 minutes 10 seconds
    Can Europe be Trump-Proofed? And Should It Be?

    Melanie, Chris, and Zack discuss the steps that European countries can and should take to prepare for possible U.S. retrenchment from the continent. Can NATO survive a second Trump administration? Or should we be equally concerned about a second Biden administration for transatlantic relations? Grievances for Justin Trudeau and Canada’s meager defense budgets, to those who kept President Biden’s health problems a secret, and to the Pentagon for acquiescing to the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile's rising costs. Attas to the Secret Service agents who risked their lives to shield former President Trump, to Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro for his handling of the tragic death of a fellow Pennsylvanian during the assassination attempt on former President Trump, and to those members of Congress starting to ask hard questions about the F-35.


    This episode's reading.

    18 July 2024, 8:58 am
  • 54 minutes 25 seconds
    Election Time: France and the United Kingdom Go to the Polls

    Upcoming elections could pull France to the right and the United Kingdom to the left, so the Net Assessment team discusses how this might alter policies in Paris and London. They discuss articles by Ulrike Franke and David Lammy, which sketch out the implications for French and British policy, respectively. In particular, what would it mean for the European Union and NATO if London doubles down on Europe just as France pulls away? Chris questions the value of Congressionally-required unfunded priorities lists, Melanie applauds Kaja Kallas's selection as the European Union’s chief diplomat, and Zack commends progress made to host nuclear-powered submarines in Perth, Australia.


    This episode's reading.

    4 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    A Live Turkey

    In the first Net Assessment recorded before a live audience, Chris, Zack, and Melanie discuss the U.S.-Turkish relationship. Has America “lost” Turkey? What are the benefits and limitations of transactional relationships, rather than alliances? How should NATO manage alliance members whose interests and behavior seem to be at odds with alliance purposes? They then take questions from participants in The Fund for American Studies programs. Chris has a grievance for a Pentagon program to discredit the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, Zack condemns China’s ongoing aggression against the Philippines, and Melanie has an attaboy for Bill Gates’s effort to build smaller and safer nuclear reactors.


    This episode's readong.

    20 June 2024, 4:01 pm
  • 57 minutes 21 seconds
    Unraveling China’s Plans for the Middle East

    Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss the nature and extent of China’s engagement in the Middle East. Should the United States be concerned about China’s growing involvement in Middle Eastern affairs? If so, what can and should be done about it? Perhaps just as importantly, what should not be done? Grievances for those who dreamed up the Gaza Pier debacle, Sen. Roger Wicker for his supposed “generational” commitment to growing the Pentagon’s budget, and for Canadian parliamentarians who are just a little bit too close to nefarious foreign actors (“semi-witting” accomplices?). Attapeople to the Philippines’s President Bongbong Marcos and to the 12 jurors in Manhattan.

    This episode's reading.



    6 June 2024, 6:00 am
  • 1 hour 22 seconds
    On China: To Win or Not To Win

    Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate Matt Pottinger and Mike Gallagher’s recent article about U.S. strategy toward China. They disagree about the Biden administration’s approach and whether the United States needs a final objective. Melanie questions those expressing condolences for the “Butcher of Tehran,” Chris cautions against a major security deal with Saudi Arabia, and Zack commends Tsai Ing-wen on eight years of steady leadership on cross-Strait issues.

    This episode's reading.

    23 May 2024, 6:00 am
  • 58 minutes 39 seconds
    Debating the Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War

    With American military and economic help on the way to Kyiv, Chris, Zack and Melanie discuss the Russo-Ukrainian war. Will the new American aid package make a difference in the outcome of the conflict? What should be Ukraine’s strategy going forward? What, if anything, can Ukraine and its partners realistically do to get Russia to make meaningful concessions at the negotiating table?

    Chris has a very proud attaboy for his son who is graduating from college and moving into the real world, Zack questions the effectiveness of a protest in Washington, D.C., and Melanie criticizes Greenpeace for a very bad idea that could have devastating consequences.

    This episode's reading.

    9 May 2024, 7:05 am
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    Countering Foreign Media Manipulation. Or Not.

    Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss Gavin Wilde’s recent article in the Texas National Security Review on foreign media manipulation. How vulnerable are citizens of democracies to manipulation through social media? Is a more open and less hierarchical media space a national security threat? And what, if anything, should policymakers in democracies do about this issue? Grievances for China blocking popular apps, Marjorie Taylor Green for her shenanigans surrounding the foreign aid vote, and to the F-35, the gift that keeps on giving (to the tune of $2 trillion); Attas for Samuel Charap and Sergey Radchenko for an important article on Ukraine, to Mike Johnson for taking a principled stand on the foreign aid bill, and to the first Australian officers to participate in AUKUS nuclear submarine training.

    This episode's reading.

    25 April 2024, 9:49 am
  • 1 hour 8 minutes
    America's Report Card in Southeast Asia

    Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate the 2024 ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute State of Southeast Asia Survey, in which regional experts assess power trends and perceptions among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The report yields some warning signs for the United States in the region, suggesting that the Biden team has much more work to do in Southeast Asia. Chris and Melanie worry about American shipbuilding while Zack commends and critiques American and Japanese leaders for announcements connected to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's visit to Washington.

    This episode's reading.

    11 April 2024, 9:48 am
  • 1 hour 5 minutes
    The 2024 Annual Threat Assessment

    Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to talk about the 2024 Annual Threat Assessment, created by the U.S. intelligence agencies. The report focuses on state actors and transnational issues that could be challenges to the United States in the coming year. What major threats does the United States face in the next year? What are we too worried about? What should we be concerned about that we aren’t paying attention to? With so many challenges, where should our focus be?

    Zack congratulates contributors to the new BlueBlaze newsletter, Chris commends the Veterans Studies Association, and Melanie wonders why New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is still in Congress and getting classified briefings.

    This episode's reading.

    28 March 2024, 6:00 am
  • 1 hour 58 seconds
    Competing for Influence in Latin America

    Chris, Melanie and Zack take a close look at the United States’ relationship with countries in Latin America. Why has the United States neglected Latin America in the last several decades? Should the United States government up its game in order to compete for influence with China in its own hemisphere? And, if so, how? And will improving U.S. ties in the region help to alleviate the immigration situation on the southern border?

    Grievances for Donald Trump's love for TikTok, Americans ignoring Haiti, and Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz who can't get along. Attas to Sen Roger Wicker for noting for months that there won't be enough money for shipbuilding — and being right!; to the members of the House who voted to compel TikTok to divest from Bytedance; and to Sen. Bernie Sanders and five other senators for calling for a new Truman Commission to root out wartime profiteering.

    This episode's reading:

    14 March 2024, 6:00 am
  • 1 hour 3 minutes
    Are the U.S. and Europe Never Ever Getting Back Together?

    Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss an article on the concept of unbalanced multipolarity by Emma Ashford and Evan Cooper. They debate what might happen if the United States pulls back from its leadership role in Europe and the rest of the world. Would America’s absence lead to global or regional disorder? Would allies step up to take some of the burden off Washington? Or would competing regional blocs emerge? Melanie laments the lack of progress on funding the Compacts of Free Association, Chris criticizes a publication decision by the New York Times, and Zack questions JD Vance’s approach to addressing defense industry shortfalls.

    Full episode reading.

    29 February 2024, 7:00 am
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