Why the Hell Are We in the “Danger Zone” with China?
Hal Brands and Michael Beckley on the Growing Chance of War with Beijing


Conventional wisdom describes China as a rising power, and it was. No more: China’s economy is slowing, it is headed into a demographic catastrophe of its own design, it has a brittle and totalitarian political system, and it feels encircled by its neighbors. Our guests Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, authors of the new book Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China, assert that China is not “rising,” but rather that it has “peaked.” More troubling still, judging by the history of peaking powers (Germany pre-WWI, or Imperial Japan,) the US should be very nervous about a short-term grab for power or territory by a panicked Beijing. 

Both Hal Brands and Michael Beckley are scholars at AEI. Hal is a senior fellow and the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a columnist at Bloomberg. Michael Beckley is a non-resident senior fellow and is an associate professor at Tufts University.

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Late last month, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive against Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine, taking back substantial territory. Incredibly, in the face of reputedly superior Russian forces, the Ukrainian military now enjoys the upper hand with respect to available personnel, equipment, command, and motivation. The tide has turned largely in Ukraine’s favor… so why is the Biden Administration still dragging its heels? China and India are cooling on their support for Putin’s military foibles, domestic support in Russia is wavering, and Moscow is now backed into sourcing drones from Iran and artillery from North Korea — all dread signs for Vladimir Putin. So what is needed to galvanize available resources in the US and in NATO to push Ukraine over the edge into decisive victory?

These questions and more on today’s episode with Ambassador Kurt Volker. Amb. Volker is a former US ambassador to NATO and the former US Special Representative for Ukraine. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, and a founding partner of the American University in Kyiv.

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Today we discuss the passing of one of modern history’s most beloved and well-known leaders: Queen Elizabeth II. With her departure comes the end of the second Elizabethan era, one that weathered world war and domestic tumult with a brand of political neutrality rarely seen on the world stage today. Much is to be discussed in the coming years regarding the state of the Commonwealth, with several countries already hinting at their departure. But today, we take a moment with seriousness — and yes, some humor — to remember the powerful impact of Queen Elizabeth II, her life, her legacy, and her unique unifying force.

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We return from our hiatus to discuss Biden’s trillion-dollar student loan forgiveness plan. Even for those with little background in economics, this is clearly a case of the inverse Robin Hood: a regressive act that takes from the poor and gives to the much less poor. Not to mention, the plan is an assault on the Congressional power of the purse, and legally murky with the justification of the post-9/11 Heroes Act. And let us not forget that this act paradoxically comes on the heels of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, though it is an incredibly costly plan that will only exacerbate current inflation levels.

As the Democratic Party consolidates its role as the party of college-educated coastal elites, AEI’s Michael Strain joins us to unpack the student loan handout. Strain is the Director of Economic Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Back to the Iran Deal… ICYMI our podcast with David Albright on what Iran is really up to…

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran last week, eliminating the country’s leading nuclear expert and the head of its program. Iranian officials have blamed Israel for Fakhrizadeh’s killing, vowing retaliation for the targeted attack.

Nuclear weapons expert David Albright joined Dany and Marc to explain what Fakhrizadeh’s death means for the country’s effort to obtain nuclear weapons. He also discusses what to expect from Iran in the coming days and how the Biden administration’s Iran policy will differ from that of the Trump administration.

David Albright, a physicist, is founder and President of the non-profit Institute for Science and International Security. He is a former weapons inspector and has written numerous assessments on secret nuclear weapons programs throughout the world.

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One year later, a WTH throwback to an outstanding pod recorded in the wake of the disastrous withdrawal…

Almost 20 years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban are back in control of the country. After President Biden’s decision to depart Afghanistan regardless of conditions on the ground, and the withdrawal of U.S. intelligence and air support to the Afghan army, the Taliban rapidly advanced, culminating in the collapse of the Afghan government.

Dr. Frederick W. Kagan joined Marc and Dany to discuss the Taliban takeover, President Biden’s decision, the role of the Afghan army, and the impact on al Qaeda.

Kagan is the director of AEI’s Critical Threats Project and a former professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served on the ground in Afghanistan, providing civilian support to the U.S. military mission.

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We break our hiatus briefly today, because this is important. News leaked that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi planned to travel to Taiwan this month, and it caused an uproar as as the public battled online about whether her trip would provoke China. Leadership hasn’t handled this well: Xi Jinping threatened military action and instead of condemning the threat, Biden hid behind the Pentagon. We know today that Pelosi plans to follow through with the visit, but this incident leaves us alarmed at the Biden administration’s lack of preparedness. By 2027, when China’s military is predicted to be capable of taking Taiwan, America’s is set to be at its weakest. We know that “integrated deterrence” was unsuccessful in Ukraine, yet there are few real plans to focus on hard power in Taiwan. America has promised to arm Taiwan, but $14 billion of delayed defense equipment requested by Taiwan sits idle. Why doesn’t the White House have a coherent war plan by now? Are we letting China deter us on the cheap?

These questions and more today with Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Member of Congress representing Wisconsin’s 8th district. Gallagher sits on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. He served seven years in the US Marine Corps, with two tours in Iraq.

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Just 7% of Americans today report having a great deal of trust in the media. A majority of the public believes that the media is more concerned with supporting an ideological or political position than informing them. The press is free, but bias has seeped into every corner. And the lack of an objective press threatens American democracy, degrades the national conversation and pits Americans against each other. How did we get to the point where the White House Press Corps has a ratio of 12:1 Democrat to Republican among reporters? Where a swath of this country’s journalists no longer believe they have an obligation to cover both sides of a story? Where the same reporters that cover statistics of a growing partisan and ideological divide in America are the same sources pushing a divisive agenda?

Ari Fleischer joins us today to offer a fresh perspective on the state of our media. He was the White House Press Secretary to George W. Bush and is a veteran media observer. He’s a Fox News commentator, and he has a new book out titled, Suppression, Deception, Snobbery, and Bias: Why the Press Gets So Much Wrong ― And Just Doesn’t Care.

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This summer is predicted to hold the worst blackouts that America has seen in recent memory – stories of individuals dying from heat grace the headlines of the same news outlets that report John Kerry’s statement that the US will be coal-free in 8 short years. Indeed, the logical inconsistency in the argument pushed by the green energy movement has never been so stark: if we don’t have a better energy alternative right now, why are we shuttering coal plants and discounting the benefit of nuclear plants? If we are truly experiencing more variable weather due to climate change, why are we focusing on solar and wind technology reliant on particular weather conditions? And, all that not to mention the predicted 233% increase in electricity prices this summer to complement prices at the pump.

Robert Bryce joins us to talk through these questions, offer policy solutions, and more. He’s the Austin, Texas-based host of the Power Hungry podcast, as well as executive producer of a documentary called Juice: How Electricity Explains the World, and the author of six books. The most recent one is called A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations.

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Last week, in the aftermath of both Party and Pinchergate – not to speak of sky-high inflation and higher taxes – Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. For many, the writing has been on the wall for months: small ethical problems snowballing because of mismanagement and lies; large economic problems fostered by increasingly leftist policies. In light of these challenges, Johnson’s great Brexit achievement’s luster began to fade. The coming days and weeks promise an unseemly scramble for leadership of Britain’s Conservatives. Where will the Tories go? A rebirth of Thatcherism to face Britain’s crises? Or more drift to the squashy left? More importantly still, are there lessons for the United States in the BoJo debacle?

These questions and more in today’s episode with Alan Mendoza. Mendoza is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, a leading UK think tank.

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