Dr. Mitchell Reiss
Mitchell Reiss has worked in foreign policy for decades. He served as the director of policy planning at the State Department under Colin Powell, as Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process from 2003 to 2007, and as an advisor to Governor Mitt Romney on national security issues during the 2008 campaign. Now the president of Washington College, situated comfortably in small-town Maryland just over an hour from the nation’s capital, Dr. Reiss granted Bellum an interview in his office in late April.
“This is a more difficult job than the ones I’ve held in government,” he said without hesitation. He described a jam-packed day that included several on-campus events — the first at 7 o’clock in the morning, the last at 5 o’clock in the evening — and then a panel discussion in Washington. The students, faculty, donors, parents, and local community present a formidable “array of constituencies that you have to be mindful of,” he explained, and unlike in government, where very few positions don’t have you reporting directly up a chain of command, as a college president “you are the final line of authority.”
The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey
Few can claim as much knowledge and experience in the intersection of national security and the law as Michael Mukasey. He served as Attorney General from November 2007 to January 2009 after spending 18 years on the bench as a federal judge in New York. Cases over which he presided included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the trial of Jose Padilla. He is now a partner at the Manhattan law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and joined Bellum for an interview last March.
National security issues once consumed “easily thirty percent” of his job. Mukasey received a security briefing every day and once a week followed up that briefing with a meeting with President Bush on related matters. In addition, there were applications to the FISA Court, dealing with surveillance and wiretapping of suspected terrorists.
Prof. Joseph Nye
Joining us today is Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean Emeritus of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a familiar name to many of our readers. He is the author of the new book, The Future of Power.
1. The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine features a survey of international security experts, including you, that seemed to paint a picture of a fundamentally benign geopolitical environment, at least for the US — war between the US and China is unlikely, a nuclear-armed Iran is not an “intolerable threat,” and the likeliest of wars may not even involve the US. What, then, are West Point cadets signing up for today — careers in humanitarian response, disaster relief, and international development (John Mueller at Ohio State suggests war will “cease to exist”), or is traditional warfare still a realistic possibility?
Alas, war will persist, for a variety of reasons, but it is not the only function of military power as I explain my my new book, The Future of Power. Deterrence, protection and assistance will be important military roles along with fighting. West Point will need to train for a variety of tasks. And the security environment may not be so benign when one includes non-state actors who will be empowered by information technology — witness cyber attacks where attribution and deterrence are difficult.
Chuck Hagel, Senator-turned-Professor (Credit: Washington Post)
Five incumbent senators retired during the 2008 election cycle—all of them Republicans. Of this group, none has remained more engaged on policy issues, especially national security, than Chuck Hagel. The two-termer from Nebraska currently co-chairs the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and sits on the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board.
In a recent interview with Bellum, conducted on March 18, the Senator-turned-Georgetown professor addressed a wide range of issues, from the nature of American power to the future of US domestic politics.
Our readers likely need no introduction to Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, and most recently the author of Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power. He joins us today for Q&A on a range of topics, including the turmoil in the Middle East, the future of the US military, and the nature of power in Washington, DC.
What do the democratic revolutions in the Middle East mean for the Indian Ocean?
Dr. Butch Brodie and the lizard cristatellus
The international security field is no stranger to scientific analogies. Alan Beattie at The Financial Times says China and the US are “two giants locked in a symbiotic embrace.” David Kilcullen and others have written about the “insurgent ecosystem” and winning “the battle for adaptation.” Leaderless organizations like terrorist movements have been called “starfish” because of their ability to regrow and flourish. But in the other direction, the international security field can also have an impact on how scientists understand and explain their own field.
Joining us today is Dr. Butch Brodie, director of the University of Virginia’s Mountain Lake Biological Station. He is one of the leading experts on “evolutionary arms races.”
As Allied troops battled their way through the hedgerows in Normandy and a small band of German officers plotted to kill Adolf Hitler, delegates from across the globe descended on the resort-town of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. There, in the summer of 1944, they laid the foundations of an international system that would operate with only minor modification into the next century.
Seated for an interview in his office overlooking Farragut Square, I asked Gen. Scowcroft for his thoughts on the sort of system we need for the future.
General Brent Scowcroft
Time Magazine’s Joe Klein called him Yoda. Having served in high-level national security-related advisory positions in every single Republican administration since Richard Nixon, General Brent Scowcroft anthropomorphically embodies the concept of “national defense” like no other. Today he joins Bellum for a lengthy interview covering a variety of topics, including:
- American exceptionalism
- whether we are like the British Empire
- preparing for future wars
- the difference between national problems (e.g., education) and national security threats
- and the future of the international system.
NOTE: The full transcript can be downloaded here: Transcript of Bellum Interview with Brent Scowcroft.
A sampling is available below:
You are a hero to many people in the national security community.
I doubt that.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker
As the “surge” unfolded in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, two men became the public face of the counterinsurgency campaign: General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. While the former has remained in the spotlight, the latter has quietly retired from a distinguished diplomatic career to Texas A&M University, where he now serves as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Bellum was lucky enough to catch up with him over the phone.
Gen. Myers (right) in January 2003. (Defense.gov)
One of the most striking aspects of the military is how its retired members find ways to remain active and abreast of contemporary developments. Veterans from past wars are brought in to serve in organizations like the Defense Policy Board; others find work as commentators at various media outlets, writing op-eds and wading into the fray on television in an effort to influence public opinion. And so when I had the pleasure earlier this summer of interviewing General Richard Myers, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005, my very first question to him was: How do you see your role as a retired Air Force general?