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Pod Save the World

“Pod Save America” cohost Tommy Vietor thought foreign policy was boring and complicated until he got the education of a lifetime working for President Obama’s National Security Council. On “Pod Save the World,” he and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes break down the latest developments and bring you behind the scenes with the people who were there. New episodes every Wednesday.

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Explosions in Beirut

Tommy and Ben talk about the enormous explosions in Beirut, why Cuba has become an issue for Congresswoman Karen Bass in Biden’s VP selection process, Biden’s 2000(!?!) campaign foreign policy advisors, why US troops are leaving Germany, the upcoming election in Belarus, why the Department of Homeland Security was collecting “intelligence” on activists and journalists, why Spain’s former king is in trouble, how schools are coping with COVID, climate change and Bangladesh, Afghanistan and TikTok.

1hr 3mins

5 Aug 2020

Rank #1

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Trump goes to war with Iran

In a bonus episode, Tommy and Ben discuss Trump’s decision to assassinate a top Iranian official named Qassem Soleimani. What happened? How did we get here? Who is Soleimani and why is he so influential? What happens next and how should the 2020 Democrats respond? 


3 Jan 2020

Rank #2

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The coup in Myanmar, explained

Tommy and Ben discuss the military takeover in Myanmar and how President Biden should respond, Alexey Navalny's sentencing in Russia, Poland's near-total abortion ban, the Biden administration's pause on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, textbook revisions in Saudi Arabia, and disparities in Israel's mass vaccination campaign. Then Ben talks to journalist and host of the Black Diplomats podcast Terrell Jermaine Starr about how domestic activism fits into American foreign policy.For a closed-captioned version of this episode, please visit crooked.com/podsavetheworld. For a transcript of this episode, please email transcripts@crooked.com and include the name of the podcast.

1hr 16mins

3 Feb 2021

Rank #3

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COVID Commander-in-Chief

The foreign policy implications of Trump catching Covid, erosion of democracy in India, a possible coup in Kyrgyzstan, an update on fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a major dam project in Ethiopia, then weird military music videos, Subway subs and soccer. Then former CIA Director John Brennan joins to talk about Russia’s 2016 election interference, Saudi Arabia, the CIA’s darker history and his new book, Undaunted.

1hr 17mins

7 Oct 2020

Rank #4

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Trump’s military complex

Tommy and Ben discuss reports that Trump routinely denigrates American servicemembers and veterans, including those killed in battle, an update on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, trouble for Brexit, the BLOB biting back, another Mulan controversy, a Twitter troll briefing the WH press corps, updates on Belarus and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, why German nationalists and conspiracy theorists are rallying behind Trump, and a climate change scandal.


9 Sep 2020

Rank #5

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U.S. policy towards Israel

Tommy and Ben Rhodes talk with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro about his time in Israel, why the Middle East Peace process failed, Trump's approach to Israel, the BDS movement, whether support for Israel is getting politicized, Netanyahu's legal jeopardy, and Jared Kushner managing our relationship with Saudi Arabia.


12 Dec 2018

Rank #6

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Kim Jong Un-healthy?

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu cuts a deal that allows him to stay in charge. We explain how the price of a barrel of oil briefly becomes negative. Rumors about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health and who might come next. Hong Kong leaders face more attacks on democracy and heavy-handed tactics from China. Parliaments around the world figure out how to meet virtually, and new polling on Trump’s handling of national security. Then former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joins.

1hr 16mins

22 Apr 2020

Rank #7

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TMZ at the DMZ

The latest rumors and news about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health, and what we know about a possible succession process. Iran launches a military satellite and Trump tries to use the Iran nuclear deal to put in place more sanctions. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro could face legal trouble. New Zealand eliminates the coronavirus while doctors in the UK race to produce a vaccine and major countries come together to discuss how to accelerate work on treatments. The latest in Afghanistan and Navy Capt. Brett Crozier might get his job back. Then journalist Rana Ayyub talks with Ben about life in India during COVID.

1hr 16mins

29 Apr 2020

Rank #8

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Iran retaliates to the Soleimani strike

Tommy and Ben talk about the fallout from Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. What do we know about Iran’s ballistic missile strikes on bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq? How are the Iranian people responding? Why is Trump threatening to commit war crimes? Why does the rationale for the strike keep changing and what can Congress do to stop the war from escalating? Then they discuss Kim Jong Un’s announcement that North Korea will abandon constraints on its nuclear program and how climate change has led to catastrophic fires across Australia. Then Middle East expert and former Bush, Obama and Trump aide Brett McGurk joins to discuss when the Soleimani assassination means for our relationship with Iraq and our efforts to fight ISIS.

1hr 16mins

8 Jan 2020

Rank #9

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The world is watching

The global reaction to the protests in the United States and the scary and inappropriate way the US military is being asked to police them. Trump’s latest fight with the G-7, an update on the war in Libya, why Ted Cruz is threatening Twitter, and locusts. Then Washington Post Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah joins to talk about how Western media would be covering the protests in the US if they were happening in another country.

1hr 14mins

3 Jun 2020

Rank #10

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Ronan Farrow

Tommy talks with Pulitzer Prize winning author Ronan Farrow about his new book War on Peace and the militarization of American foreign policy. 


2 May 2018

Rank #11

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Impeach the mofo

Tommy talks with national security expert Kelly Magsamen about Trump’s attempt to extort Ukraine for manufactured dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s UN speech, Iran, the Israeli elections and the protests in Egypt. Later, Tommy is joined by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA officer who joined six of her colleagues with national security backgrounds to say the allegations against Trump on Ukraine would be an impeachable offense. Then, Tommy speaks with former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power about Syria, national security decision making and her new book, The Education of an Idealist.​

1hr 34mins

25 Sep 2019

Rank #12

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Ukraine, corruption, and partners in crime

First, Tommy and Ben discuss Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine, that country’s history with corruption, why Joe Biden was pushing to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor, and how this controversy could destabilize the Ukrainian government. Then they cover Trump’s call to pressure Australia, the shady ways the White House is restricting access to information, and how Mike Pompeo is complicit in all of it. Finally, they discuss China’s 70th anniversary celebration, the protests in Hong Kong, the latest with Iran, Brexit, and why John Bolton is criticizing Trump’s North Korea policy. Then former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron joins to discuss his new book For the Record, Brexit, and the future of democracy.

1hr 18mins

2 Oct 2019

Rank #13

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Dunking on Erdogan with Enes Kanter

Police crack down as protests escalate to new heights in Hong Kong. An explosion involving a nuclear reactor in Russia kills at least a half dozen people.  Boris Johnson tries to negotiate a U.S.-U.K. trade deal ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union. A scary report in the New York Times sheds light on what’s driving the spread of right wing extremism around the globe. And Ben Rhodes shares the story behind his recent reporting for The Atlantic on Aung San Suu Kyi. Then Enes Kanter, a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics, joins Ben in the studio to talk about human rights and the politics of his home country, Turkey - and why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put out a warrant for his arrest and banned him from coming home. 

1hr 5mins

14 Aug 2019

Rank #14

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"Space Force all the way!"

Tommy talks with defense expert Katherine Charlet from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about President Trump's plan to create a Space Force!!! How much is the military currently operating in space? Is this proposal smart, necessary or a gigantic waste of taxpayer money. Listen to this episode (which includes lasers) to find out!


15 Aug 2018

Rank #15

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Foreign lobbying and what Bob Woodward taught us about Trump's foreign policy

Two part show this week! First, Tommy talks with the Wall Street Journal's Julie Bykowicz about new and insidious ways foreign countries are lobbying the Trump administration. Then, Tommy is joined by Vox's Alex Ward to discuss North Korea, revelations in Bob Woodward's book, new theories about what harmed diplomats in Cuba, and Burma.


5 Sep 2018

Rank #16

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Panic at the Pentagon

First, Tommy talks with former DOD official and national security expert Kelly Magsamen about Trump’s meddling in the military justice system and the firing of the Secretary of the Navy. They also discuss the impeachment hearings, whether former National Security Advisor John Bolton should testify, Hong Kong’s democracy-affirming elections, why Trump is extorting Japan for money and the latest on the US military mission in Syria. Then Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg joins to discuss the corruption charges against Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu and what it means for his political future.


27 Nov 2019

Rank #17

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Syria strikes and North Korea talks

Tommy talks with foreign policy expert Kelly Magsamen about Trump’s strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons site, his lack of a broader strategy, and her attempt to “red team” the policy options during the Obama administration. Then they talk about CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s trip to North Korea.


18 Apr 2018

Rank #18

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The CIA's tortured history

Tommy talks with ACLU political director Faiz Shakir about the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA despite her role in the Bush-era torture of terrorism suspects. They also discuss the politics of national security in the Trump era, and whether Obama did enough to hold the CIA accountable for its actions.


27 Apr 2018

Rank #19

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Right-wing radicals and CIA secrets

Tommy talks with former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about her efforts to combat right-wing extremists. Then he is joined by former Deputy CIA Director David Cohen to talk about what it was like to learn the world’s most closely guarded secrets, how the CIA works, and hear his David’s views on North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs. 


16 Aug 2017

Rank #20