Pacific Pundit

Welcome to Pacific Pundit, a podcast on Asian geopolitics, foreign policy, and history hosted by Van Jackson. We're here to make sense of the world's most important region, and America's role in it.
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Pacific Pundit


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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 27, 2016

In this episode of Pacific Pundit, we bring strategic sense to Southeast Asia and the rhetoric of Filipino strongman, Rodrigo Duterte. Our history segment considers how Cosimo de Medici used political communication to consolidate power in Florentine Italy during the 15th century. In a conversation with Joshua Kurlantzick (Council on Foreign Relations), we discuss how much power President Duterte really has, how unique he is compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, and how important political changes there are for the United States. We also talk about Kurlantzick's new book, A Great Place to Have a War. In the final segment we examine research by Evelyn Goh for clues about how to understand Duterte's strategic hedging between China and the United States.

Music: Nangdo - Skaffa Flute.

Production: Tre Hester.

Nov 18, 2016

In this episode of Pacific Pundit, we explore the possibilities for US Asia policy under President-elect Trump, from continuity and stability to disaster and nuclear war.  Our history segment recalls the campaign rhetoric and foreign policy promises of Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential run.  And in conversations with an eclectic group of experts--Hugh White (Australian National University), Michael Horowitz (University of Pennsylvania), and Ali Wyne (Atlantic Council)--we debate Donald Trump's war propensity, the failure of "NeverTrump" open letters, and how Asia will respond to a Trump presidency.  Music by Carl Ranson Vorpahl.​

Oct 26, 2016

In this episode of Pacific Pundit, we have the audacity to argue that great power competition exists between the United States and China. Our history segment reminisces about War Plan Orange and the importance of taking a long view of competition when faced with rising revisionist powers. In conversations with Oriana Mastro (Georgetown University) and Tai Ming Cheung (UC San Diego), we explore various causes and consequences of competition between the United States and China.  We also turn to new research by Phil Saunders and Julia Bowie in the Journal of Strategic Studies that examines the military side of Sino-US relations. Music by Nangdo--Foolin' (Chrome "Album") and The Look (Chrome "Album").

Oct 4, 2016

In this episode of Pacific Pundit, we explore the scope, causes and consequences of trilateral cooperation in Asia.  In our history segment, we revisit how the Australia-New Zealand-US (ANZUS) alliance broke up in the 1980s.  We discuss Japan-South Korea-US cooperation with Brad Glosserman (Pacific Forum CSIS); China-Japan-South Korea cooperation with Andrew Yeo (Catholic University of America); and EU-US cooperation in Asia with Sharon Stirling (German Marshall Fund of the United States). We also turn to research by Amy Catalinac (New York University) to better understand why and when trilateral relationships might prove vulnerable to disruption.

Sep 15, 2016

In this episode of Pacific Pundit, we put North Korea's fifth nuclear test in a historical, theoretical, and policy context.  We review historical evidence revealing U.S. preferences for preventive nuclear war when America was a new nuclear power.  Our guest is Dr. Vipin Narang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), who talks about his book Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era (Princeton University Press) and what it means for North Korean nuclear doctrine.  And at the end of the show, we explain the changes needed to alliance deterrence, military posture, and public diplomacy to adapt to the realities of North Korea as a second-tier nuclear-armed adversary.  

Aug 24, 2016

In this episode, we explain why William Seward is the OG of US Asia strategy, debate the origins of the rebalance to Asia under President Obama, and bring on two guests-- James Brown (University of Sydney), explaining how Asia and Australia are viewing the United States and China, and Evan Montgomery (Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments), discussing the importance of military superiority for any grand strategy. Evan also discusses what his new book, In the Hegemon’s Shadow (Cornell University Press), means for future US strategy toward Asia. 

Aug 8, 2016

In this first episode of our new podcast, Pacific Pundit, we explain why offshore balancing strategies are a loser's bet, critique an article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer advocating an offshore balancing grand strategy, and interview Dr. Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and most recently author of the book Return of the Dragon: Rising China and Regional Security (Columbia University Press).We talk about how America became a wealthy great power--it wasn't through isolation.