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Disrupting the Global Order with Janice Stein
34 minutes | Aug 7, 2017
Ep 38 - Thomas Wright on the Liberal International Order
Foreign and domestic policy in the United States seem to have melted down. The President’s major domestic policy initiative – repeal and replace Obamacare – has failed. Infighting inside the White House is especially open and vicious. Abroad, President Trump has upset almost all of America’s traditional allies, but has not reset relations with either China or Russia. He withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement and resisted appeals from 19 other G20 leaders to reconsider. He talks again and again about renegotiating trade deals that are unfair to the United States and, at times, has threatened to walk away from them entirely. Most important, President Trump is openly attacking the liberal international order that the United States has painstakingly built over the last seventy years. When other complains that he is shattering a consensus that took 70 years to build, Trump celebrates his disruptive behavior. To put this pivotal moment into context and to look ahead to the future, I welcome Thomas J. Wright, the author of the provocative new book, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21 st Century and the Future of American Power. Thomas Wright is the director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. He has written for The Washington Quarterly, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and The Washington Post.
35 minutes | Jul 31, 2017
Ep 37 - Who’s watching us online? How are they watching? And what does this mean for our democracies?
Digital technologies and platforms are connecting people across space and time in new and disruptive ways. Amazon is the world’s largest shopping platform. We buy books, clothes, shoes, and shortly groceries on the Amazon platform, and we do it with this powerful computer that we hold in our hand, our smartphone. We have access to more information, and goods and services, more quickly and more easily than we have ever had in human history. But there’s a dark side to all this digital activity. We are sharing more information about ourselves, our likes, and dislikes, our activities, with digital providers. What is private is no longer clear. We are, in other words, leaving a digital footprint every time we go on the web. And we are vulnerable to those who seek to spy on us, to ensnare us into digital traps with a simple click of our mouse. Who’s watching? How are they watching? And are our democracies and human rights at risk? To help us answer these questions, Janice spoke with Ron Deibert, the Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. For years, the Citizen Lab has sounded the alarm about the abuse of commercial spyware. It has shown how surveillance technology, allegedly restricted to government agencies for criminal, terrorism, and national security investigations, is used against civil society. The Citizen Lab recently released a new report, “Reckless Exploit: Journalists, Lawyers, Children Targeted in Mexico with NSO Spyware.” The Report documents how the Government of Mexico spied on its own citizens using commercial software.
31 minutes | Jul 24, 2017
Ep 36 - Mark Perry: Will the Saudi-Qatar Spat Escalate Friction Between America and Iran?
The Middle East is now principally an exporter of conflict to the rest of the world. It has lost its strategic position in world oil markets as the US has become a global exporter of oil. The world is also moving rapidly to develop renewable energy. Although that will take decades, Crown Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia knows that Saudi Arabia can no longer depend on exporting oil to build its economic future. Politics in the region are no more promising. The Israel-Palestine conflict is stalemated with no progress in sight. Syria is a failed state locked in factional fighting that has sucked in neighbours and great powers alike. Iraq is still bitterly divided and struggling with the aftermath of the US invasion and the Islamic State. Class warfare is back, as Michael Lind told us in an earlier podcast, if it ever went away. And recently, a long-simmering conflict between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, on the one hand, and Qatar, on the other has boiled over, yet again pulling in neighbours who lined up on opposite sides. Where is the Middle East heading? And is it likely to continue to export its internal conflicts to the rest of the world? To help answer these questions, Janice speaks with Mark Perry, the author of The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur and the forthcoming, The Pentagon’s Wars.
32 minutes | Jul 17, 2017
Ep 35 - Time Magazine's Joe Klein on Obama's legacy
President Trump continues to challenge his allies as well as his adversaries. He withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement and resisted appeals from 19 other G20 leaders to reconsider. The final communique was the 19 versus 1 on climate change. He talks again and again about renegotiating trade deals that are unfair to the United States and, at times, has threatened to walk away from them entirely. He responded to Assad’s use of chemical weapons with a missile strike and has warned Kim Jong-Un of North Korea of very severe consequences if he continues to test long-range missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. When other complain that he is shattering a consensus that took 70 years to build, Trump celebrates his disruptive behaviour. In this, and in almost every other way, his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor Barack Obama. To help us evaluate Obama’s foreign policies, their strengths and their weaknesses, Janice spoke with Joe Klein, who recently wrote "Yes, He Did: Judging Obama’s Legacy" in Foreign Affairs. Klein is a columnist for Time magazine.
32 minutes | Jul 10, 2017
Ep 34 - Uri Friedman: Is American Democracy Really Under Threat?
American democracy is under siege, or so it seems. The president consistently attacks the legitimacy of the courts and the media -- two essential pillars of a well-functioning democracy. The White House no longer holds regular press conferences. Intelligence agencies have concluded Russia interfered in the U.S. election. Opinion is polarized and partisanship is intense. Could democracy in the United States collapse? Other democracies have. To help us answer this question, Janice spoke with Uri Friedman. Uri just published the essay Is American Democracy Really under Threat?He is a staff writer with the Atlantic.
32 minutes | Jul 3, 2017
Ep 33 - Richard Reeves: Stop Pretending You’re not Rich
Politics across the developed world has been boiling over with anger and frustration. People are angry about the growing gap between the very rich and the poor. Inequality has been growing since the 1970s. Stagnant or dropping incomes for the bottom third along with exploding gains for the top 1% have sharpened the sense of unfairness. It is not only the top 1%, however, who have made huge gains relative to the bottom third. It is the top 20%, or the upper middle class, who have done disproportionately well. Richard Reeves tells us that the top fifth of the income distribution in the United States, with an average annual household income of $200,000 has seen its pretax income increase by 4 trillion since 1979, compared to just over 3 trillion for everyone else. Class warfare is back, as Michael Lind told us in an earlier podcast, if it ever went away. What explains this relentless growth in inequality across most of the developed world? And what are its consequences? To help us answer these questions, Janice spoke with Richard Reeves, who recently wrote “Stop Pretending You’re not Rich” in the New York Times. Richard Reeves is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the new book, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why that is a Problem, and What to do About It.
30 minutes | Jun 26, 2017
Ep 32 - The New Class War
We all sense that the international order that emerged at the end of the Cold War is fracturing. The United States is turning inwards, China is flexing its muscles in Asia, Britain is exiting, and Europe is preoccupied with rescuing its project of integration. But what comes next? There is no agreement on the shape of the future. Our guest on this episode tells us to pay attention to the new class war that has erupted. A transatlantic class war has broken out, he claims, between elites in the corporate, financial and professional sectors, and working-class populists. Already this transatlantic class war has produced Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump. This is only the beginning. More shocks are on the way. Class warfare is back, if it ever went away. Michael Lind is the author of the essay The New Class War. He is the Co-Founder of New America and Policy Director of their Economic Growth Program. He writes frequently for the New York Times and the Financial Times.
31 minutes | Jun 19, 2017
Ep 31 - The Death of Expertise
We live in angry times. People are angry because they don’t share the prosperity and opportunities that other have. They’re cynical because they no longer believe political leaders as a class will keep their promises to fix it. They distrust authority because, after all, what have scientists and economists delivered to them? How has science made their lives better? The search for truth, so fundamental to science, has become a contest of opinions, where your opinion is as good as mine. My facts and your facts are merely alternatives to each other and there is no way to distinguish between them. All this has rolled into a larger wave of skepticism about experts who claim that, as a result of years of study, they know better and are better able to set priorities for society. The long-standing deference to expert knowledge is slipping away, claims Tom Nichols, in his new book, The Death of Expertise.
30 minutes | Jun 12, 2017
Ep 30 - Joby Warrick, author of "Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS"
Terrorists, acting in the name of Daesh or the Islamic State, attacked Britain three times in three months, targeting young girls and civilians on bridges and markets. Prime Minister Theresa May, her voice laced with frustration told the British public that “Enough was enough” and promised to do more. But: What more can she do? British intelligence services are already overwhelmed by the number of suspects that they track and monitor, and would need to triple or quadruple the number of agents they have in order to monitor the people on their list. Da’esh is losing territory in Iraq and Syria. The battle for Mosul is in its final stages. When it falls, Da’esh will no longer control a major city in Iraq. The capital Raqqa is now surrounded on three sides. The khilapha, or caliphate declared by the Islamic State, will not survive long when it no longer controls territory. But Da’esh fighters are moving to Libya and Yemen, and some are returning home to Europe now that defeat seems imminent. They bring with them skills and anger at their defeat. Is a new wave of terror attacks about to begin? It is hard to argue that the three attacks in Britain constitute a new wave, since British intelligence and police have disrupted 16 attacks since 2013. Nobody is better equipped to grapple with that question than Joby Warrick, the author of the gripping new book, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 2016. The Pulitzer jury described Black Flags as “a deeply reported book of remarkable clarity showing how the flawed rationale for the Iraq War led to the explosive growth of the Islamic State.” Joby Warrick is a reporter for The Washington Post and the author of the 2011 best seller, The Triple Agent.
33 minutes | Jun 5, 2017
Ep 29 - The Driver in the Driverless Car
Driverless cars are coming. Google already has prototypes and other companies are in hot pursuit. Experts tell us that within a decade, driverless cars will be common in our cities and on our highways. How do you feel about driverless cars? Some of us look forward to giving up the wheel and relaxing while cars drive us more safely than we could ourselves. These sophisticated machines with a capacity to sense and learn will not make the common mistakes that almost all drivers make. Car accidents will go down, insurance costs will drop, and we’ll be better off. Hold on. Not so fast. Others worry that “smart cars” will quickly become much smarter than people, and along with many other smart technologies, will threaten our autonomy and independence. And, what happens to the 3.5 million people in the United States who drive cars and trucks for a living? Do their jobs disappear? And do they join the chorus of angry voters who lose their jobs and are shut out from the benefits from the exponential growth in smarter and smarter technologies. It is no accident that Vivek Wadha titled his new and provocative book, The Driver in the Driverless Car. Vivek Wadha is a Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Silicon Valley.
35 minutes | May 29, 2017
Ep 28 - The Knowledge Illusion (part 2)
Last week, we explored with Steven Sloman his revolutionary approach to thinking. Thinking, he tells us, is a social activity that we do with others, never alone. We are all part of a community of thinkers where we divide the work of thinking. When we build a home, for example, we need many different kinds if experts each of whom knows what they’re doing. On this episode, we’re going to explore the wide-ranging implications of being part of a community of thinkers and learners. Welcome to Part Two of my conversation with Steven Sloman, the co-author with Philip Fernbach of a compelling new book, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. Steven Sloman, is a professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences at Brown University. He is also the editor in chief of the journal Cognition.
30 minutes | May 22, 2017
Ep 27 - The Knowledge Illusion (part 1)
Fake news is the big story in Europe and the United States, and that’s left many voters incapable of knowing the difference between fact and fiction. But that’s not the whole story. Even when voters are given facts that contradict their beliefs, their confidence in their beliefs remains unshaken. And people are increasingly losing confidence in expert opinion. Democracy is based in the assumption that voters are knowledgeable, informed, and can make good decisions. Post-election surveys of voters tell us that’s not the case. Voters know far less than they think they do and are over-confident about their choices. How can we explain this paradox? Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach tackle this problem in their revolutionary new book, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. They tell us first that people suffer from - what they call – a “knowledge illusion.” And even more important, they tell us that we never think alone. We are all part of communities of knowledge and learning, where we divide the cognitive labour. On this episode, Janice Stein speaks with Steven Sloman, a professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences at Brown University. He is also the editor in chief of the journal Cognition.
28 minutes | May 15, 2017
Ep 26 - The end of the Asian century part 2
Europe is in the middle of an existential crisis. The United States is struggling to find out who it is under President Donald Trump. The Middle East is caught up in its recurring violence. In the midst of all of this, many are focused on Asia, which they see as a a political and economic salvation. But Michael Auslin disagrees. He is the author of the new book The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. In last week's episode, Janice and Michael discussed China's impact in Asia, and as a dominant global power as well. In this episode, they examine the other major players in the region.
28 minutes | May 8, 2017
Ep 25 - The end of the Asian century
Europe is mired in a crisis about its future. The United States is led by a president that is shaking up the system in unprecedented ways. No end is in sight to the violence in the Middle East. In the midst of all this dysfunction, Asia has been the great hope. Led by a resurgent China, Asia would regain its rightful place in the global economy and in global politics. One out of every 3 people on the globe is either Chinese or Indian. The 21st century was supposed to be the Asian century. Not so, says Michael Auslin. Even before it has begun, he sees the end of the Asian century. Asia is closer to violent conflict, he tells us, than it has been in decades. The Chinese economy is certainly decelerating and may be “stalling out.” Governments across Asia are more fragile and authoritarian politics are on the rise. Michael tells a story of Asia that is very different from the conventional wisdom of the Asian miracle. It is an important corrective to the undiluted optimism about Asia’s future. Michael Auslin is the author of The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. He is a former history professor at Yale University and is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington. Here's part one of his conversation with Janice Stein.
29 minutes | May 1, 2017
Ep 24 - Is the end of Europe in sight?
The end of Europe is upon us. A Europe of peace, prosperity and democracy is falling apart. So says our guest today. He warns Europe is increasingly undemocratic and economically stagnant. It’s threatened by extremists from the left and the right, and slowing heading to war. How did we get here? Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is the beginning of the end. France is facing a run-off election with Marine Le Pen – a candidate who is profoundly against the European Union. In Hungary, a right-wing nationalist prime minister is building an “illiberal democracy.” Russia is pushing ahead with its military build-up and using sophisticated cyber weapons to meddle in elections across the continent. James Kirchik is the author of the beautifully written new book, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming of the Dark Age. He is a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative in Washington and a correspondent for the Daily Beast. He has written a gloomy but brilliant portrait of a continent that he loves.
29 minutes | Apr 24, 2017
Ep 23 - How populist movements emerge and gather strength
The Trump administration, elected on a wave of populism, has moved at a rapid fire pace to disrupt the global order. Most controversial has been its repeated attempts to ban entry into the United States by travellers from six countries in the Middle East – all Muslim – for 90 days and to stop accepting any additional refugees. It has appealed directly to both economic nationalism and identity politics, traditionally the core elements of populism. The United States is not alone in facing an upsurge in populism. Older British voters outside the big cities voted to turn their backs on Europe and regain control of immigration. France and Italy both face surging populist movements. Populism is not a new phenomenon. It has happened repeatedly in history, but what it is and when it happens is still widely debated. Bart Bonikowski is an expert on populism who has studied it both in history and in the present across countries. He brings a broad comparative understanding of what populism is and what it means. Bonikowski is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University and Resident Faculty at the Minda de Gunzberg Centre of European Studies.
30 minutes | Apr 17, 2017
Ep 22 - Is Trump a fascist?
The wave of populism that has swept through the United States and Europe has been a shock to many who did not foresee the impending disruption to doing politics as well. Perhaps it should not have been a surprise. Global financial crises, the Harvard economist Ken Rogoff tell us, run deep. Their effects last a decade and they can have seriously destabilizing social and political consequences. It is reasonable to understand the current wave of populism in the United States and Europe as a consequence of the financial crisis of 2008-2009. After all, these were the areas hardest hit by the Great Recession. Not everyone agrees. Some see a dark underside to current populist movements. They trace its origins to the kind of thinking that Steve Bannon, and to some extent, Marie Le Pen in France, trumpet: white nationalism, a stereotyping of the “foreigner” and the “outsider,” an anger at immigrants who allegedly – although not in fact – receive special benefits. At the extreme, some analysts hear echoes of earlier Fascist movements that came to power in the 1930s. Although the circumstances today are very different from the 1930s, the politics of the “big lie” strike many as crypto-fascist. On this episode, Janice speaks with Ruth Ben Ghiat, an expert on both fascism and populism, as well as a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Her latest book is "Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema".
29 minutes | Apr 10, 2017
Ep 21 - The Resilience of Corruption
Corruption is routinely the focus of front page stories in mature democracies as well as in younger democracies. Astonishing stories come to light about bribery and payoffs in government and embezzlement and inappropriate enrichment in the private sector. The public is outraged, officials occasionally lose their jobs, committees are struck to investigate, reform measures are proposed, new laws are enacted, but soon after, the cycle begins all over again. Nothing much seems to change. Corruption has serious costs yet is remarkably difficult to police.Miriam Golden, the co-author along with Ray Fisman, of the recently published Corruption: What Everyone Needs to Know. Golden is Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Los Angeles and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
30 minutes | Apr 3, 2017
Ep 20 - Encounters with the Islamic State
The Islamic State is unique among militant Islamic movements in recent history. Born in the chaos that followed the American invasion of Iraq, its leaders moved to Syria and then stormed back, eradicated the border between Syria and Iraq, and declared the long-awaited caliphate, a khilafa, that had been absent from the Islamic world since 1922. The overwhelming majority of the Muslim world has rejected the khalifa and his interpretation of Islamic law. Many have declared the beliefs of Islamic leaders as beyond the pale, as aberrant and inconsistent with Islam. Graeme Wood challenges this interpretation. He has interviewed its recruits and its recruiters all over the world, and has spent many hours in conversation with both. Fluent in Arabic, he has steeped himself in the writings of its leaders and in the foundational texts of Islam. It is impossible to conclude, Wood argues, that the Islamic State is not Islamic. Wood is the author of The Way of Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State. He is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and teaches at Yale University.
28 minutes | Mar 27, 2017
Ep 19 - Architecture as a disruptive force
World trade is declining. President Trump is questioning long-standing strategic alliances that have lasted for more than 60 years. Populist leaders are preparing for elections that will soon be held in France and Germany, hoping to build on the momentum created by Brexit and Trump. Everywhere, disruptive forces are gathering, shaking foundational assumptions, creating uncertainty... elevating anxiety for some, and excitement and promise for others. The arts in general, and architecture in particular, have long prided themselves on being disruptive. Their mission is to change what we see, and the way we see. By so doing, to challenge prevailing concepts of truth and justice. At this moment of disruption in the global order, we take a step back to talk about the capacity of the arts and architecture to both lead and bridge that disruption. William Thorsell is the former editor of Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and former President of Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum who worked with Daniel Libeskind to build its transformative addition – the “Crystal”.
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