A New Era of Great Power Competition, With Hal Brands

Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss what lessons the United States can draw from the Cold War for understanding our new era of great power rivalry.

January 25, 2022 — 31:19 min
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Host

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Episode Guests

Hal Brands

Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Show Notes

Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss what lessons the United States can draw from the Cold War for understanding our new era of great power rivalry.

 

Books Mentioned on the Podcast 

 

Hal Brands, The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today (2022) 

 

Articles Mentioned on the Podcast 

 

Hal Brands, “Containment Can Work Against China, Too,” Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2021 

 

Hal Brands, “The Overstretched Superpower,” Foreign Affairs, January 18, 2022 

 

Richard Fontaine, “Washington’s Missing China Strategy,” Foreign Affairs, January 14, 2022 

 

“X” (George Kennan), “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” Foreign Affairs (July 1947) 

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Transcript

Jim Lindsay:

Welcome to The President's Inbox. The CFR Podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is great power rivalry. With me to discuss what lessons the United States can draw from the Cold War for understanding our new era of great power competition, is Hal Brands. Hal is the Henry A Kissinger distinguished professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Hal previously worked as an advisor to the Secretary of Defense and is the author several books on foreign policy and international affairs. His new book is The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today Hal, thanks for joining me.

Hal Brands:

Thanks for having me, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

I suspect we're going to be talking a lot about history in our conversation. So I want to begin with your thoughts on why knowing history is useful for understanding and making policy decisions today. We, of course, have the famous statement that, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." But we have a corollary to that saying, which is, "Those who have learned from history find new ways to screw up." So why is knowing your history useful?

Hal Brands:

I guess maybe I would adapt the old phrase a little bit and say, "Those who don't use history well are doomed to use it poorly." And...And...The reason for that is that we're going to use history regardless of whether we do so explicitly and self-consciously or not. So every policy maker has a personal history that obviously influences their approach to decision making. We all have a certain understanding of the past and what worked well, and what didn't work well, and what examples are relevant and what examples are not that we're going to draw on in confronting new situations. And so the key really is to make our use of history more explicit and to make it more systematic and more rigorous, so that we're actually drawing on a real version of the past rather than an imagined version of the past.

Hal Brands:

I think that's particularly important with respect to the Cold War. And so the Cold War is useful in a variety of respects. It is an example of great power competition, one of the most famous examples in history. So presumably teaches us something about what it takes to succeed in a long competition with a dangerous rival. It's the only time in America's history when we have done a multi-decade competition with an authoritarian rival. And so presumably teaches us about what we're good at and what we're not good at, and that sort of struggle. And it's actually within the living memory of a lot of people who are still working on American policy today, including, notably, President Joe Biden. And so I'm sure that President Biden has some memory of the Cold War that he draws in thinking about US relations with Russia or China, whether as a positive or a negative example. And so I would suggest that he and every other American policy maker can probably benefit from digging into that history a little bit more deeply and seeing what it really teaches us.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's do just that, Hal, let's dig in, and let's begin first with your giving me your assessment of America's current geopolitical situation?

Hal Brands:

So I think our current geopolitical situation is that we are at the beginning of twin great power competitions, with China and with Russia, perhaps with China and with Russia, if you want to list them in order of the severity of the threat. And so the last two American presidential administrations have told us that the post-Cold War policy of engagement with China failed. The United States was not successful in drawing China into the international system in a way that would change China's behavior or its political complexion. And so now we have to shift toward a more competitive policy, if we're going to defend our interests. We're still figuring out exactly what that means and exactly how it'll manifest in policy. But I think there's bipartisan agreement on that.

Hal Brands:

At the same time, Vladimir Putin is finding ways of reminding us that we are in a competition with Russia as well. And Russia is trying to carve out a sphere of influence on its European frontiers and in the former Soviet space, it's finding ways of contesting American influence in various places around the globe. And so we have these two twin competitions; there's a danger of hot war in both of them, although we can probably argue about exactly how real we think that danger is. But even if they don't lead to war, they're going to lead to tension, they're going to lead to rivalry, they're going to lead to struggles over the rules of the international order and the balance of power. And so in that sense, the issues that we face today, while they're different in the specifics, there's at least a broad similarity to what the United States faced during the Cold War.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, Hal, let me draw you out on this issue of strategic competition. You had a very nice essay that appeared back in December in the review section of the Wall Street Journal, and you wrote there, and let me quote you, "Competition is a geopolitical reality not a strategic objective." I'll buy that point. So I have to ask from where you sit, what do you think America's strategic objective should be in this competition?

Hal Brands:

So let me answer that question by trying to frame the debate on that issue, I think. So I think that this issue is probably most pronounced right now with respect to US, China policy. And so one of the critiques of both the Trump and the Biden administration, most recently in a piece in Foreign Affairs by Richard Fontaine, has been that the United States has committed to competing with China without really saying what it thinks competition will lead to. And I think there are basically two theories of the case here. And so the first theory of the case, and the more optimistic one is that effective competition leads to some form of stable coexistence. And so if the United States is able to prevent China from overturning the balance of power in the Western Pacific, if it is able to prevent China from seizing the high ground and the technological competition and things of that nature, then Chinese behavior will change, and China will become less assertive in challenging American interests and American allies.

Hal Brands:

And so even though competition will continue, there'll be a greater degree of stability. The risk of conflict will be lower. It'll be sort of like Détente in the late '60s and early 1970s, where nobody was under the illusion that the Cold War had gone away, but it become tamer and safer. The other theory of the case, which is, I think is a little bit more pessimistic, and also, unfortunately, in my view a little bit more likely is that the competition is unlikely to end or to be tamed on a sustainable basis so long as the Chinese Communist Party, and so long as the form of the Chinese Communist Party, that runs China under Xi Jinping continues in power, and as long as Chinese power continues to be sufficient to pose a threat to the international system. That's sort of an awkward way of saying that there's something about the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese political system that creates tension and conflict with the concept of world order that the United States has sought to promote.

Hal Brands:

If that's the case, then what you are really trying to do is basically contain the malign expression of Chinese influence until something changes, until either level of Chinese power changes or the nature of the regime evolves. And I want to put out an important caveat here that if you believe the second theory of the case, you don't necessarily have to be in favor of regime change, or you know crazy covert action schemes to overthrow the Chinese government. It would simply be a recognition that this state of competition is going to endure and be relatively intense until you get some deeper changes. So I think those are the two basic lines of argument. I find myself drawn a little bit more to the second one, but it's a fraught debate.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk a little bit about what lessons we can mind from American history for addressing what you call the Twilight Struggle. Maybe I should ask you first, why do you call it the Twilight Struggle? That sounds a bit ominous.

Hal Brands:

Well, I stole it, or borrowed it perhaps from John F. Kennedy, who famously used it to describe the Cold War in 1961. And Kennedy liked the Twilight Struggle metaphor because Twilight is kind of neither this nor that, right? It's not daytime. It's not nighttime. It's somewhere in between. And that was actually a pretty good description of the Cold War, and so the Cold War, it wasn't hot war. I mean, there were hot wars as part of the Cold War, but never between the United States and the Soviet Union, which is what differentiated it from the world wars. But it certainly wasn't peace in any meaningful sense, or certainly not as Americans had understood that term before. The United States had to do things during the Cold War that it had never had to do before, build a peacetime national security establishment, defend allies located half a world away, and things of that nature. And so it clearly wasn't peace in any meaningful sense either. And so that's the metaphor that the Twilight Struggle is meant to convey.

Jim Lindsay:

So you mind the Cold War for lessons about how to handle this Twilight Struggle, but you're a historian. You know that American foreign policy existed before 1945. Why do you turn to the issue of the Cold War and containment for guidance, rather than to an earlier tradition of American foreign policy, which is usually described derisively or unflatteringly, as isolationism. Proponents would argue it's about the great rule of conduct that Washington gave us about not becoming meshed politically overseas, or at least not beyond the Western hemisphere. There obviously have been a lot of calls recently by historians, among others talking about how we should reclaim that legacy and turn more inward, sort of circumscribe our ambitions in some sense, America First, in some versions, tries to recover that. I ask particularly, because you wrote recently that the United States is the overstretched superpower. So why not turn away from all of this and just sort of focus at home?

Hal Brands:

I think the best answer to that question is that we've forgotten how nasty the world would get if the United States was to do that. And so anybody who was born after say, 1945 has had the privilege of living in, in a world that is totally abnormal by historical standards. It's been more peaceful than the historical norm, more prosperous in the historical norm, more democratic than the historical norm. And there are a lot of causes of these effects, but among them is the really unusual role that the United States has played in world affairs and containing dangerous authoritarian states like the Soviet Union in providing security in regions like east Asia and Europe, so that the countries of those regions no longer tear each other apart as they had done in the decades before that managing the global economy and other things.

Hal Brands:

And so that's not the normal state of international affairs. That is the state of international affairs because the United States has played such an outsized role. And so I think what we have to recognize is that if the United States did take the America first route, or if it took the root of really significant retrenchment, and when we talk about retrenchment here, it's probably useful to clarify that, you know we're not talking about the debate over whether to stay in Afghanistan or get out of Afghanistan. It's a debate over whether the United States should play this fundamentally more active role in world affairs in the way that it has done. And if the United States were to pull back from that role, I think it would find that the void would be filled by actors like China, like Russia, that simply have fundamentally different views of how the world should work. And so that's the short answer, I think.

Hal Brands:

The last thing I would point out is just with respect to the question of overstretch. This is a problem the United States has confronted before. And so typically when you find yourself in a position of overstretch, you have a couple of different options. You can reduce your commitments to bring them into line with your capabilities, or you can increase your capabilities to bring them in line with your commitments. My preference would be to do the latter, even though the point I was making in the piece that you referenced is simply that this is a choice we won't be able to skirt forever.

Jim Lindsay:

So let's turn our attention, then, to the Cold War. Cold War lasted 45 years or so. What do you take to be the lessons for American strategy going forward that are derived from the period of the Cold War?

Hal Brands:

Maybe I'll just mention a couple that might be useful, and so one, which I think is particularly relevant in the context of US, China relations today has to do with the role of diplomacy or the role negotiation in competition. And we often think about these things as sort of polar opposites, right? So either you are competing or you are cooperating/negotiating with a rival power. I think what the Cold War teaches us is that that's not really the case. And in fact, you can cooperate within the context of a competition, and there are multiple good uses for diplomacy and cooperation within such a context. And so during the Cold War, I think the United States eventually learned that there were three ways in which you could integrate diplomacy and cooperation into a larger strategy of competition, and instead of viewing these things as polar opposites.

Hal Brands:

And so one of them was carving out areas of cooperation, even as you continued to compete in other areas. And so in the late 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union did something really revolutionary. They created the nuclear non-proliferation regime even as they continued to compete for influence in the Third World, for instance. And so that was one way in which cooperation would be useful. A second way would be in sort of reducing dangers at the margins. And so I think, the best diplomats that America had, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, people of that nature, never really thought that diplomacy would be useful in fundamentally changing the nature of the US-Soviet relationship. The differences were just too profound. But you could do things, negotiating arms control agreements, negotiating the neutralization of Austria in the mid-1950s, that would somewhat reduce the risk of war and make the competition a little bit more stable. That was worth doing, given that the risks of war were so catastrophically high.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let me ask you to apply that lesson, Hal, to our current situation, particularly dealing with China, cause while there are obviously similarities between the Cold War era and the era we find ourselves in now, there are distinct differences. One of them being that the American economy is intertwined with the Chinese economy and the broader global economy. So where do you see potential for diplomacy working or maybe I can broaden it out to accommodation cause one way of dealing with a rising power is to find ways to accommodate yourself and your like-minded countries, to the presence of another country that has slightly different, maybe greatly different preferences and interest.

Hal Brands:

I think there are at least a couple of potential areas, and so the one that has gotten a lot of attention, and rightly so, is the issue of climate change. And so it seems fairly clear that the United States and other countries are not going to be successful in galvanizing meaningful international action on climate change without some degree of cooperation from China. And so, I think the lesson would be that it's a mistake to try to buy that cooperation with geopolitical concessions and that instead you should try to isolate the issue and pursue cooperation on that, even as you compete in other areas. Now the Chinese will resist that, and they have resisted that in the opening year of the Biden administration. And so I think it'll take a certain sort of test of strength or test of stamina in order to see if that is actually possible in this relationship.

Hal Brands:

A second area, though, might have to do with the economic relationship. So there's a lot of talk about decoupling the US and Chinese economies. I think there are certain areas in which that actually is very important. And so we wouldn't want Huawei to build the 5G telecommunications networks in the United States, or, frankly, in a lot of other democratic countries around the world. So there are certain areas where you're going to have to have a little bit more separation for a strategic...

Jim Lindsay:

A selective decoupling.

Hal Brands:

A selective decoupling. But that doesn't mean that you have to stop you know buying textiles from China. It doesn't mean that you have to stop buying washing machines from China and things like that. There are huge areas of sort of non-strategic trade that can continue. They could perhaps be a little bit of a buffer in the relationship. They may also provide the US with some degree of strategic leverage in a crisis.

Jim Lindsay:

So give me an idea of another lesson that you would take from the Cold War that would apply to this era of renewed geopolitical competition now?

Hal Brands:

One of the things that the United States did during the Cold War, which was fundamentally new in its experience, was to build and maintain over a period of decades, a coalition of allies and partners that were dedicated to a similar geopolitical purpose, which was containing Soviet power and that involved a whole lot of things. It involved military alliances, it involved building deep and sustained diplomatic relationships, it involved a lot of economic cooperation. And the insight that underpinned it was, the thought that what the United States did with its friends was actually more important to its global position than anything it could do to the Soviet Union.

Hal Brands:

And so if we got our alliance relationships, right, we would get the Cold War right over time. I think that judgment born out by the course of the Cold War. I think it looms pretty large today. If the United States gets its relations right with Europe, in the case of Russia, or with its allies in the Asia Pacific, in the case of China, plus other countries as well. It's going to be pretty difficult for China and/or Russia to summon the strength to overturn the existing system. If, on the other hand, the United States manages to separate itself from its allies, either because it retrenches, or it pursues policies of angry unilateralism or something like that, you're going to see a lot bigger gaps for countries like Russia and China to exploit.

Jim Lindsay:

I imagine how for some people listening to this conversation, certainly people of a certain age or people who read a lot of history, they will hear you finding great virtues in the policy of containment, and they will have one perhaps two reactions, one, containment span the presidencies of Harry Truman through George HW Bush, and over the course of that period, those presidents often disagreed on exactly what American policy should be. These were often big issues in presidential elections. So on the one hand, is thinking about containment as a policy really help us? But a second question I would imagine that would arise with people is looking back on the Cold War, we fought two large scale wars, one of which Vietnam deeply divided the country. I think many people came away believing it should never have been fought, and was a great mistake. How do you respond to those arguments?

Hal Brands:

I think these arguments are both essential to keep in mind and trying to make sense of the Cold War. And so the impression that I want to give people is certainly not that the Cold War was a record of unblemished success on the part of the United States. That wasn't the case, right? There were errors, there were missteps, there were tragedies, with Vietnam, being only the most salient among them. And so it's a reminder in one sense that even when you have a successful policy, the road to success is going to be very difficult.

Hal Brands:

Now, why would I still say that the Cold War was an example of successful policy, because the United States managed to achieve basically everything it set out to achieve at the outset of that struggle without having to fight a third world war. If you had told people that in the late 1940s, many of them would not have thought that was possible. And so there are lots of bad things that happened during the Cold War, but the way in which the United States is able to contain Soviet power and then transform the international system, I think at the end is quite impressive.

Hal Brands:

On the point about politics, that's absolutely correct. I mean, there were vicious, brutal political fights over containment, and many of the associated policy choices. The argument I make is that that was actually a strength of containment. And so if we go back and we read George Kennan's famous X Article published in Foreign Affairs in the summer of 1947, you will look in vain for detailed policy prescriptions in that argument. It's basically a theory of the case, a theory of what the United States can try to achieve and how it might be able to do so, and Kennan left it much to his own regret, to subsequent generations of policy makers to figure out what that meant for nuclear strategy, what it meant for American policy and the Third World, what it meant when it came to questions like whether we should try to contain communist influence in South Vietnam. And so it was that ambiguity that actually allowed the strategy to survive all of the vicissitudes of world affairs in 40 years and all of the vicissitudes of American politics as well.

Jim Lindsay:

We've spoken a lot to this point, Hal, about China, but obviously we're really looking at a great power competition that also involves Russia. As we're sitting here having this conversation, there are concerns that the Russian troops massing near the borders of Ukraine will carry out some kind of invasion or intervention, scope unknown, and that could greatly change the overall geopolitical situation. So as you sort of think about this, and again, looking it through a Cold War lens, what advice would you give the administration? Because obviously over the span of time, the Cold War operated, you had confrontations, but you had crises flare up around the globe that may have distracted from what you had hoped would be your primary preoccupation.

Hal Brands:

So I think one lesson is that being a superpower means you can never really concentrate on just one thing, and so that was true during the Cold War. I think it's true today as well. It's entirely correct to think that China poses the greater threat to the international system than Russia does over the medium term and certainly over the long term. But Vladimir Putin is... He finds ways of reminding us that we have two great power rivals rather than one, if we ever make the mistake of thinking otherwise, and our interests are sufficient in Eastern Europe that the United States shouldn't simply want to sacrifice those interests. And so this is going to be sort of you know a situation of parallel competition for some time.

Hal Brands:

The second lesson, I think, is that it can be really hard and really time consuming to try to split rivals apart from each other, even if it's worth trying to do. And so in some ways the current situation is a little bit analogous to the 1950 and the 1960s, when the primary rival was obviously the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union had a military alliance with China creating sort of a big red block in the heart of Eurasia. And so there's been a lot of concern, rightly, I think, over the fact that Russo-Chinese relations have become increasingly close over the past 20 years, and there are growing forms of cooperation between them. And so the obvious question that arises is, can somebody pull the reverse Kissinger? Can somebody pull Vladimir Putin away from the Chinese and the way that the story goes? The next administration pulled Mao Zedong away from the Soviet Union.

Hal Brands:

I think the answer for now is no for reasons that Cold War policy makers would've understood. The Sino-Soviet split and the Cold War really preceded, the US opening to China. There was in fact, Sino-Soviet hot war on the border between those two countries in 1969 that followed along and acrimonious falling out, and so that's simply not the case today. And so the United States should hope to change the strategic equilibrium over time, but that's something that's going to have to wait a decade or more, I would think.

Jim Lindsay:

Can I ask you to think about the flip side of that? Because in all of these conversations, we tend to assume that the transatlantic relationship is strong and will last in perpetuity because we're like-minded countries. We share a history, we share values and the like, but I've been reading some people raising concerns that the transatlantic relationship is far more fragile than we think it is. It's not fragile solely because of Donald Trump's America-first disdain for allies, and it's not fixed just because Joe Biden says America is back, but we have brought our division on the other side, and that in particular, Germany is not really committed at the end of the day to shoring up the kind of military might, that one would need to counter threats posed by Russia.

Jim Lindsay:

In notably concern I've seen aired is that President Putin may actually calculate being a risk-prone individual that he can get into Ukraine, basically, end the political threat Ukraine poses to Russia, while at the same time causing a major division in the transatlantic relationship, because at the end of the day, Germany wants to get gas from Russia and wants to sell products back to Russia. What do you make of that argument?

Hal Brands:

I think that's almost certainly Putin's calculation, and I don't think he would have provoked this crisis had he not calculated that the and Europe, which is basically the US and Germany for this purpose, would go in different directions when the crisis started and to some extent that has been born out. And so we've seen press reports that the Biden administration has struggled to line up European, by which I read German support for some of the stronger sanctions measures that it might put in place after a Russian invasion.

Hal Brands:

But I think Putin needs to be pretty careful about this, because if he actually does mount a major military operation in Ukraine, that could be the thing that shifts the German political debate on Russia quite dramatically. And so you know the person who really authored NATO's revival beginning in 2014, when the alliance had been in real trouble for a while, was Vladimir Putin with his invasion of Ukraine. And that was when you saw the turnaround in NATO defense spending. It was when you saw agreement to station small forces in Eastern Europe as a deterrent against Russian aggression, and you actually saw the Germans get on board for economic sanctions, which have remained in place to this day, I think quite to the surprise of many observers. And so there's nothing like a good threat or a good geopolitical shock to help an alliance pull together, and so while Putin may have some hope of dividing the alliance with sort of continued low grade tension, if he actually does something dramatic, he may get a very different result than he expects.

Jim Lindsay:

So I'm going to put you in the column that thinks an intervention in Ukraine strengthens the transatlantic relationship rather than exposing some fundamental divisions?

Hal Brands:

I think that's right. I mean, it will certainly expose divisions that. Even during the Cold War, NATO was never unified in its threat perception. It was never unified in the military strategy that it wanted to pursue. And so that's useful history to keep in mind. But I think if Putin does mount a major invasion of Ukraine, he's going to confront a more united NATO. He may confront an enlarged NATO, if a country like Finland decides to take the plunge and come into the alliance. He's certainly going to face a more robust US and NATO forced posture in Eastern Europe. And so Putin may win a victory in Ukraine, but I think he's actually likely to come out of such a crisis in an ambiguous, if not worsened position.

Jim Lindsay:

I want to bring the conversation, Hal, back home and ask you about the political viability of the strategy you're proposing for the United States. Judging by the significant political sport that Donald Trump retains. It's pretty clear that many Americans don't like the idea of spending blood and treasure on defense of a rules-based order, and they don't like multilateralism. Even among Americans who don't like Trump, you see a lot of hostility to cooperating with like-minded countries on trade and other issues.

Jim Lindsay:

Joe Biden supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he won't go anywhere near it. You obviously can't blame America's partners and allies who look at January 6th, Biden's sort of sagging poll numbers, and Trump's continued hold over Republicans for concluding that perhaps Joe, Biden's the aberration in not Donald Trump, hence even less likely to cooperate with us, playing into the complaints here that our allies don't do enough. Walk me through why you're not persuaded that sort of our current political situation doesn't undercut the kind of policies you favor?

Hal Brands:

So one reason is that I think there are cycles of ambivalence and recommitment in America's approach to international affairs since World War II. And so it's a mistake to think that there was sort of a big bang at the end of World War II, and the United States has been reliably internationalist. Ever since, as you know, there have been repeated debates over whether the United States is doing too much, not enough, not the right sort of thing in international affairs, whether that's the great debate over stationing troops in Europe, in the early 1950s, after the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty or some of the post Vietnam debates in the 1970s. And so what typically happens is that the United States goes through a period of introspection and doubt about its role and sustaining the international order. Sometimes it pushes its allies to change the distribution of burdens and benefits in that order and the way that we did in the 1970s with the end of the gold standard.

Hal Brands:

At some point the level of threaten in the international environment is such that it leads us to recommit. And so that cycle gives me a little bit more confidence in where we are today. The other thing I would point out is that I have a slightly more positive read of the politics of American foreign policy than people some do. And so trade is actually a really interesting example of this, and so TPP was considered a political lightning rod in 2016. Trump gets out of it in 2017. The political popularity of trade is actually quite substantial now, judging by opinion polling. Trade is about as popular as it's ever been since this polling started, I think, in the 1970s.

Hal Brands:

And so it's not clear to me that getting into a revised CPTPP is actually politically impossible for this administration. In fact, I think I can actually envision the political coalition that would make that happen. It would be difficult, and it would require a major investment of presidential capital. By the way, that has always been true of trade agreements in the United States. And so I think this is actually a question, as much of anything else is, is the bind administration willing to make that commitment and at what point? Because I think it's a fight they could actually win.

Jim Lindsay:

On that note. I'll close up The President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Hal Brands, the Henry A Kissinger distinguished professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His new book is The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today. Hal, thanks for joining me.

Hal Brands:

Thanks for having me, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Please subscribe to The President's Inbox on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen and leave us a review. They help us get noticed and improve the show. The books and articles mentioned in this episode are listed on the podcast page for The President's Inbox on cfr.org. As always, opinions expressed on The President's Inbox are solely those of the hosts or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis, with senior producer, Jeremy Sherlock. Zoe did double duty as our recording engineer. Thank you, Zoe. Special thanks to Margaret Gach for her assistance. This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.

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Michael Kimmage, professor of history at the Catholic University of America and visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, sits down with Jame...

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Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the global impli...

Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the global impli...

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Patricia M. Kim, David M. Rubenstein fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, sits down ...

Patricia M. Kim, David M. Rubenstein fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, sits down ...

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Top Stories on CFR

Middle East and North Africa

Turkey’s geography and membership in NATO have long given the country an influential voice in foreign policy, but the assertive policies of President Erdogan have complicated its role.

Religion

For the past two thousand years, the pope has been a major player in global affairs. He is frequently called upon to act as a peace broker, a mediator, an advocate, and an influencer; and with over 1.3 billion followers around the world, the pope and his governmental arm, the Holy See, have the power to shape the future. How has the pope's power changed over time, and what is his role today?  

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Opioid addiction in the United States has become a prolonged epidemic, endangering not only public health but also economic output and national security.