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Robert Kagan

15 Podcast Episodes

Latest 20 Jan 2022 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Robert Kagan and American Empire w/ Robbie Martin

Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael

On this edition of Parallax Views,  recently the influential neoconservative thinker Robert Kagan penned an op-ed entitled "A Superpower, Like It Or Not: Why America Must Accept Their Global Role" for the Council on Foreign Relation's Foreign Affairs publication. In it Kagan not only expresses his view that the U.S. must continue it's interventions and wars abroad, but also large portions of the American populace not accepting their country's "Global Role".Robbie Martin of Media Roots Radio, whose documentary A Very Heavy Agenda dealt in large part with Kagan and the neoconservative agenda, joins us to critique Kagan's latest op-ed.

1hr 9mins

19 Mar 2021

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Robert Kagan's Neo-Imperialism

Empire Has No Clothes

This week on Empire Has No Clothes, Kelley, Dan, and I discussed neoconservative Robert Kagan's new essay embracing endless war. We also talked with John Ghazvinian of the Middle East Center about the future of American policy in Iran.


3 Mar 2021

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Liberal Realism (Robert Wright & Robert Kagan)

The Wright Show

Bob K., who call himself a "liberal realist," defines the term ... In praise of the post-WWII American security umbrella ... Bob K.'s preferred China policy ... Have spheres of influence returned? ... How great powers treat international law ... Bob K.: Mainstream American realists are actually moralists ... Bob W.: America would be better off if it consistently respected international law ... Should democracy promotion be a US foreign policy goal? ...


15 Sep 2020

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The Jungle Grows Back by Robert Kagan

Worker and Parasite

On the podcast this week, The Jungle Grows Back by Robert Kagan. Here is Jerry's ideological Turing Test book summary: Peaceful liberal world order is not the natural state of affairs; it exists because, like a garden, it has been artificially created by the United States. If the United States stops tending this garden then the jungle of great power competition and chaos will reemerge. The order is not perfect, but the alternative is worse. Only the United States, given the power it has by virtue of its geography, is capable of imposing order. Spheres of influence should be a discredited notion, except for the U.S. as order-keeper. Like the prewar world, disorder means a world dominated by powers hostile to American interests and principles. Indeed, American security would be threatened directly by such a state. Left alone, Hitler would have invaded the U.S. It is not unthinkable that prewar-like disorder with Hitlers and Stalins can return, and indeed the conditions for the emergence of such characters seem to be reappearing. After the war, the U.S. sought to pursue its own security and interests, but to foster an “environment of freedom” (Acheson) that ended great power competition and disorder. The decision to shoulder this responsibility was made before the Cold War when we still believed the Soviets would be part of the order. Maintaining the order means “operating in a gray area in which wars [are] fought not for security, but for less easily measured ends: stability, prosperity, progress, liberalism.” People do not share a universal desire for freedom; very often they prefer order and security. Sometimes you have to convert adversaries to liberalism, presumably at gunpoint. The struggle has no end. The U.S. guaranteeing the security of the members of the order (and indeed by allowing no other alternative), liberated Germany, Japan, China, etc. to focus on economic growth. “To criticize this as free-riding is to miss the profound and historically transformative choice they were making.” The order depended on the U.S. not abusing its dominant position, but instead competing on a level playing field, although sometimes it didn’t. It certainly never respected the rules when it came to security and Cold War strategy. Nevertheless, the Cold War ended peacefully because the Soviets could see the U.S. wasn’t going to be revanchist. Britain, Japan, and Germany were allowed to give up empire without penalty—to the contrary. Americans before and after the Cold War have consistently rejected the idea that they have a responsibility to foster an order. This democratic opinion gets in the way of properly tending the garden. Bush I didn’t go to Baghdad, Clinton didn’t invade North Korea or take out al Qaeda, and Obama didn’t invade Syria out of deference to public opinion—all mistakes. The exceptions to this was immediately after WWII and after 9/11. Americans accepted the post-war plan first because they did not think it would be as costly as it turned out, and after the onset of the Cold War because they believed the Soviets to be an existential threat. In retrospect, communism probably didn’t pose such a big threat to American “way of life.” After 9/11, “fear in the United States was much higher, and actions that had been unthinkable before became thinkable.” The Bush administration took the opportunity to invade Iraq even though there was no connection to 9/11. It turned out that Iraq was not the threat we thought. Without the Soviets or the fear of terrorism, Americans are back to their habit of denying the need to intervene broadly to maintain the order. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. only imposed sanctions and didn’t even sell Ukraine defensive weapons. Hillary Clinton was so cowed by public opinion she turned on her own Trans-Pacific Partnership. Russia today is not acting out because it’s concerned about its security, but out of national pride. NATO expansion shouldn’t have bothered it because it knew it didn’t threaten its security, only limited its ambitions. In any event, it was really good for the expansion nations, so it’s worth “[w]hatever the effect on the Russians may have been.” Putin is also worried that the U.S. wants to drive him from power. “Behind every democratic revolution on former Soviet territory, in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, he saw the hand of the West, and particularly the United States,” but he really shouldn’t be so paranoid since “the role of outsiders was not the decisive factor in the toppling of the authoritarian regimes in those countries.” Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland. China today is not acting out because it’s concerned about its security, but out of national pride. The Chinese are merely unhappy that the U.S. wants to limit its ambitions, namely unifying with Taiwan and controlling the South China Sea. European, and particularly German, nationalism is on the rise, due largely to increased immigration from the Middle East and Africa that the people perceive as a threat to their (liberal?) culture. The U.S. bears a lot of the responsibility for this because it didn’t invade Syria. “A year ago, one AfD leader, complaining about the inundation of ‘culturally alien peoples,’ attributed it to the ‘pigs’ in the German leadership who were ‘nothing other than puppets of the victor powers of the Second World War.’ It doesn’t really matter what spurs such thoughts. The rise of such nationalist sentiments has geopolitical implications.” The threat in Europe today is worse that communism because Marxism at least had liberal roots and thus shared many of the same goals. Today there is a counter-enlightenment from the right “that plays more effectively on liberalism’s failings and insecurities.”


15 Sep 2020

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Robert Kagan

Free Food for Thought

"I always compare foreign policy to a baseball average. If you miss 70% of the time you’re going to the Hall of Fame, and I think foreign policy is like that, too."This week, Anna and Will sat down with Robert Kagan, foreign policy expert and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Listen in to hear Kagan's reflections on his life and career working in the field of international relations.


16 Apr 2019

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Robert Kagan on Authoritarianism and the Threat to the Liberal Democratic Order

Conversations with Bill Kristol

Does the rise of authoritarian powers represent an ideological threat to liberal democracy—or just a strategic challenge? Why must America defend the liberal order created after World War II? In this podcast, Robert Kagan, a historian and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues that authoritarian regimes represent an ideological as well as strategic threat to the America-led liberal democratic order. Drawing on his recent essay “The Strongmen Strike Back,” Kagan explains that authoritarian regimes—whatever their differences of character or policy—are united in their ideological opposition to liberalism, and have compelling reasons to try to subvert it wherever possible. Highlighting the growing dangers posed by aggressive authoritarian regimes, now armed with technologies of surveillance, Kagan explains why America must defend liberalism at home and the liberal democratic order abroad.


6 Apr 2019

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Bernard-Henri Lévy, author, with Robert Kagan

Sixth & I LIVE

Bernard-Henri Lévy—one of the West’s leading intellectuals—asserts in The Empire and the Five Kings that America is retreating from its traditional leadership role as Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and Sunni radical Islamism are taking steps to assert power and influence. In conversation with Robert Kagan, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. This program took place on February 19, 2019. 

1hr 14mins

25 Feb 2019

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Robert Kagan: The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World


As democracy declines around the globe and geopolitical competition grows, US sentiment increasingly appears to favor going it alone. But if we abandoned our long-term global commitments, what would happen to the current world order? Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author, The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World, discusses the future of American foreign policy with World Affairs CEO Jane Wales. We want to hear from you! Please take part in a quick survey to tell us how we can improve our podcast: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PWZ7KMW


5 Feb 2019

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Dr. Robert Kagan: "The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World"

Sound Discussion

Dr. Robert Kagan joins EWI’s Cameron Munter for a discussion on the perceived decline of the liberal world order, as established by the United States at the conclusion of the Second World War. Focusing on Dr. Kagan’s most recent book entitled: “The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World,” the discussion addresses the potential consequences of America’s retreat from its global leadership role, and the ensuing challenges to global stability.“We are the ones upholding the system,” says Kagan. “If we lose control and are unable to uphold the system, it’s not clear to me that we will be able to reestablish it. That’s why I don’t want to wait for the disaster to come - I want to prevent the disaster.”Dr. Robert Kagan is an American historian and foreign policy expert. He is the senior fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post.


18 Dec 2018

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The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World, with Robert Kagan

Carnegie Council Audio Podcast

"The analogy that is at the heart of this book is about a jungle and a garden," says Robert Kagan. "In order to have a garden and sustain a garden, you've got to be constantly gardening. For me at least, that is a good analogy for this liberal world order, which itself is an unnatural creation which natural forces are always working to undermine." Human nature has not fundamentally changed, and this peaceful period is an aberration.


20 Nov 2018