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Podcast from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University, featuring Director Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Mike and our scholars dive into critical international issues, offering insights into the history and context of the biggest stories in the news.
 
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In his inaugural address, President Biden declared, “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause — the cause of democracy.” But is the United States still a beacon for aspiring democratic societies around the globe?In a crossover episode with the World Affairs Podcast, World Class host Michael McFaul and Dr. Francis Fukuyama — …
 
Last week, riot police used force to remove Nika Melia, the leader of Georgia’s main opposition party, from his political headquarters. Meila’s arrest has deepened political rifts within Georgia and is plunging the nation into crisis, with opposition parties vowing to boycott Parliament until Melia is released by the government. Nino Evgenidze, a G…
 
In a special crossover episode, World Class host Michael McFaul discusses how the U.S. can mend relationships with the rest of the world after four years of unpredictability on the World Affairs Podcast. Mike and Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico, join World Affairs co-host Ray Suarez to talk about how to best address foreign polic…
 
Iran’s economy is at its worst point in decades, its Supreme Leader is ill, and the country is “desperate” for a nuclear deal with the United States, says Abbas Milani, an expert on U.S.-Iran relations. On this episode, he and Mike discuss the Iranian economy, the future of Iran’s leadership, and what a potential new nuclear deal might look like.…
 
While we should expect some big changes over the next four years when it comes to U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, President Joe Biden should be willing to cooperate with Russia on select issues, says Steven Pifer, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. In this episode, Pifer discusses the Biden administration’s approach to Russia and its priorities …
 
Relations between the U.S. and China are more tense than ever over issues such as trade, a new national security law in Hong Kong, U.S. attempts to restrict Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat, and the COVID-19 pandemic. International security expert Oriana Skylar Mastro joins the podcast to discuss the tension between China and Taiwan and why it matter…
 
840 million people — or about one-ninth of the world’s population — live in China’s rural areas. They tend to settle in the regions in which they are born, and they’re generally not depicted in mainstream media outlets, but they are going to play an instrumental role in the country’s economic future. In this episode, Scott Rozelle discusses how the…
 
During the 2016 presidential election cycle, Russian operatives used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms to spread disinformation in order to divide the American public. Four years later, misleading and false information about the 2020 presidential election is still rampant online. And this time around, more of that misle…
 
We are nearing the end of the election season in the U.S. that has been anything but ordinary — the country is in the midst of a global pandemic, which has caused a seismic shift in how Americans will vote. Nearly three-quarters of American voters are eligible to receive a mail-in ballot for the 2020 election. Nathaniel Persily is one of the leader…
 
Signed by President Barack Obama and former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in 2010, the New START Treaty caps the number of strategic missiles and heavy bombers that the U.S. and Russia can possess. The nuclear arms control treaty is set to expire in February 2021 unless an agreement is signed in the coming months. Rose Gottemoeller, the chief n…
 
Described by some as “Europe’s last dictator,” Alexander Lukashenko has headed an authoritarian regime in Belarus for the last 26 years. Following his recent victory in Belarus’ presidential election, which is widely considered to have been rigged, citizens have taken to the streets to protest. Belarusian scholar and activist Aleś Łahviniec breaks …
 
Many see China as having a desire to displace the United States as the preeminent power in the world. In this episode, Jean Oi and Thomas Fingar (co-editors of "Fateful Decisions: Choices That Will Shape China’s Future") explain why they disagree with this belief. They also discuss China’s growth and achievements over the past 40 years, the choices…
 
With protests continuing after the tragic killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, people around the world are demanding more transparency and accountability from police officers. What steps can be taken to curb police violence and abuses of power? Dr. Beatriz Magaloni is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studi…
 
Following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, widespread protests have erupted in cities around the United States and around the world. What can we learn from these protests, and what implications might they have for democracy in the United States? Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for Interna…
 
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, its effects could be potentially devastating to global democracy and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Nate Persily, a senior fellow at FSI and co-director of the Stanford-MIT Project on a Healthy Election, and Larry Diamond, also a senior fellow at FSI, discuss how democracies and autocracies are doing…
 
COVID-19 has established itself around the globe and will be with us for the foreseeable future. What do we know about the virus so far, and what makes it unique? Michelle Mello is a professor of law and medicine at Stanford whose research focuses on law, ethics, and health policy. David Relman is a professor in the departments of Medicine and Micr…
 
Global populism is on the rise. Once associated with Latin American and post-communist democracies, populist parties and politicians have now gained support and power in established democracies. In a new white paper, “Global Populisms and Their Challenges,” co-authors Anna Grzymala-Busse, Didi Kuo, Frank Fukuyama, and World Class host Michael McFau…
 
The coronavirus has infected more than 75,000 people and killed more than 2,000 since it was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late December. Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies experts Karen Eggleston and David Relman join host Michael McFaul to discuss what you should know about the virus, its impact on China and the world, and …
 
In the wake of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by the United States, Abbas Milani — an expert on U.S.-Iran relations — discusses Iran’s economic and political troubles, Soleimani’s role in Iranian politics, and what the country’s decision to fire missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops means for relations between Iran and the U.S. goi…
 
With an average age of 41, Ukraine’s new parliament — elected in July 2019 — is its least experienced one yet. 80 percent of the legislature had no political experience before the election last summer, and the nation is at a crossroads of sorts: will it transition into a successful reformist government, or will its efforts fail? Francis Fukuyama — …
 
President Donald Trump recently made the decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. Why was the U.S. there in the first place; where do things stand now with Turkey, the Kurds, and Syria; and what effect did that decision have on the fight against ISIS?Brett McGurk is the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at FSI and the Center for International…
 
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s name has appeared regularly in discussions about the controversial situation with Ukraine. What was Biden trying to achieve during his visit to Ukraine in 2015, and what is his connection to the controversy surrounding the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky? Colin …
 
Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately in the context of U.S. politics, but we haven’t heard many Ukrainian perspectives in the U.S. media following the controversy surrounding the recent interactions between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In this episode, Sasha Ustinova shares a Ukrainian perspective on the T…
 
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer breaks down the controversial July 25 phone call between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky. He talks about the context of what was going on between the U.S. and Ukraine when the call took place, what was discussed during the call, and why the situation is damaging U.S. diplomatic relations with Ukrai…
 
Following the Russian disinformation campaign surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election, election security and disinformation are now global issues. What should be done in order to protect the integrity of the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election, and who should be responsible for creating these protections? Alex Stamos — the former chief…
 
Between 1991 and 2006 the world was dominated by liberal values and institutions, and we saw a major increase in the number of democracies around the globe. But for the past 13 years, global freedom has been on the decline. Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, discusses why the world may be on …
 
What is the evolution of thinking about digital technology, the companies that dominate it, and their responsibility to users of their platforms and the tenets of free speech? Eileen Donahoe, the executive director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator (GDPI) at FSI’s Cyber Policy Center, discusses the need for global internet guidelines, and GDPI…
 
More needs to be done to protect against foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. election, and not just by the American government. Nathaniel Persily, co-director of the Cyber Policy Center and a senior Fellow at FSI updates us on how technology companies have changed the way they display political advertising, why other countries need to be on the l…
 
The standoff over the presidency in Venezuela continues, with two men, Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó, still claiming the office. Dr. Harold Trinkunas, deputy director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at FSI, updates us on how the situation has evolved since the beginning of the political conflict, the interests of the U.S. …
 
Three weeks after the release of the Mueller Report, much of its content is still off-limits to the public. In this episode, former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos shares his thoughts on what was and was not included in the public report, and what surprised him the most. A cybersecurity expert, business leader and entrepreneur, Alex Sta…
 
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, but additional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election are now expected. Greg Miller and Mike McFaul discuss the challenges that policymakers and journalists face in investigating Russia, and how democracy in the U.S. has fared since 2016. G…
 
The United States-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, was cut short and did not produce any agreement between the two countries on denuclearization. What does this outcome mean for the prospect of future diplomacy and the potential for armed conflict? Scott Sagan is a professor of political science at Stanford University, and a senior fellow at F…
 
There’s a range of issues dividing voters in America today. As it turns out, though, the current polarization is not limited to the U.S. political system. What is triggering polarization, and what is the relationship between polarization and the populist movements underway globally? What, if anything, can be done to alleviate deepening political di…
 
Gun violence is one of the most polarizing topics in America, and the gun debate is about to heat up. The Supreme Court has decided to hear a significant gun rights case, and House Democrats recently unveiled a landmark bill requiring background checks. All of this comes in the wake of the worst year for gun deaths in two decades. Gun violence goes…
 
The economic and diplomatic tensions between the US and China are creating ripple effects across Southeast Asia. China is pursing an aggressive agenda of economic development throughout the region, and while there is undoubtedly a strong need for infrastructure projects, the Chinese strategy could limit the future autonomy of the Southeast Asian na…
 
Ever since the the scientific revolution of the 17th century, there has been tension between the institutions of science and religion. This tension between religion and science has a direct effect on governance. After all, the United States was conceived as a system of democratic institutions that valued reason and deliberation. But are religious b…
 
We are still learning the details about Russia’s disinformation and manipulation campaigns during the US 2016 elections. Tech companies have come under intense scrutiny, and, according to former Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, much of the spotlight on Big Tech is warranted. However, Stamos also argues that our government, the media, …
 
Climate change is likely to have far reaching impacts, and some consequences are particularly unexpected. In a provocative study, Marshall Burke and his colleagues demonstrate that suicide rates increase on hot days, regardless of other factors. Burke's findings raise significant questions. Are the underlying drivers of this relationship tied to ec…
 
Silicon Valley's role in the world is now so big that some people argue the power of tech firms is similar to the powers of a nation-state. So maybe it's not too surprising to learn that Denmark has taken an unusual step, and has dispatched career diplomat Casper Klynge to serve as the world’s first tech ambassador. Klynge's role is to create avenu…
 
From 2011 to 2015 Ambassador Wendy Sherman was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the fourth-ranking official in the State Department. She was the lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran nuclear deal, and before that she served as policy coordinator on North Korea for President Clinton. She has a new book, Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons …
 
Biosecurity threats are often overlooked. For years scientists have been saying that the world is overdue for a pandemic, and there's an ongoing risk that terrorists or nation states might weaponize diseases. If that's not worrying enough, the risks of pandemics increase as climate change worsens. What steps are we taking to understand and prepare …
 
It is now clear that the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey was a pre-planned execution, likely ordered by people at the very top of the Saudi government. The incident has sparked an international outcry, and raises questions about the US’s relationship with the Saudis. What is the underlying nature …
 
With the US midterms fast approaching, we are still trying to make sense of everything that happened in the 2016 elections. What do we now know about vulnerabilities in our democratic processes? What risks do we face from foreign adversaries? Beyond the US, how are governments around the world adjusting to threats posed by digital technologies? Eil…
 
“Identity politics" has become a driving force in political conversations in the U.S. and abroad, but what exactly is it? Where did it come from, and how will it shape the future of our society? FSI Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow and CDDRL Mosbacher Director Francis Fukuyama joins host Michael McFaul to explain how his new book, “Identity: The Dem…
 
African American men have the lowest life expectancy of any major demographic group in the U.S. The reasons for this are many and complex, but new research from FSI's Stanford Health Policy suggests that there may be a straightforward solution: hiring doctors who look like the patients they're treating. Dr. Marcella Alsan, an associate professor of…
 
President Trump says the nuclear threat is behind us, but do the experts agree? Gi-Wook Shin, Scott Sagan, Kathleen Stephens, and Michael McFaul tell us about the winners and losers from the 2018 U.S.-North Korean Summit, what we should worry about, what denuclearization really means, and the eternal question: what comes next? Kathleen Stephens is …
 
What’s it like to have a dictator after you? In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s “request” to interrogate former ambassador and World Class host Michael McFaul, the US public backlash was swift and strong. It’s extremely unlikely that McFaul will be asked to respond to Russian investigators - but many Americans were unnerved at the Trump administration…
 
It's not so easy to create a whole new country, and the world map is much more fixed than it used to be. While there are many secessionist and independence movements around the globe, the truth is that international powers are extremely reluctant to redraw borders. Where are the unrecognized states in the world, and what commonalities do they share…
 
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